Avoid holiday disruption with pre-travel tyre checks
As well as inspecting the condition of tyres and making sure they have adequate tread depth, drivers should ensure that tyres are properly inflated, taking account of any additional passengers or loads being carried. Without taking these essential precautions, drivers face an increased risk of being stranded by the roadside or involved in an accident as a result of a tyre related issue.
“If the warm weather we’ve recently experienced continues throughout the summer, we may see many more tyre related incidents on our roads unless drivers check their tyres before setting off on holiday,” explains Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. “Heat is an important factor in a tyre’s ability to perform properly and keep occupants safe. Checking tyre pressures only takes a few minutes and will make a significant contribution to controlling the tyre’s temperature.”
When tyres are under-inflated or overloaded they are much more likely to suffer from a sudden rapid deflations, particularly when travelling at high speeds for long periods. In this state, extra heat builds up within the tyre causing its various internal components to separate and eventually fail in spectacular fashion. Not only do sudden rapid deflations cause a problem for the driver who has to try to control the vehicle, but other road users are also put at risk from any tyre debris left in the carriageway.
When checking tyre pressures, drivers should ensure they are inflated to the correct levels for the load being carried. Many vehicles require higher tyre pressures when carrying extra passengers or heavy items such as suitcases, bikes or roof boxes. Details of correct tyre pressures can be found either in the driver’s handbook, inside the fuel filler cap, or on a plate located on the driver’s door sill.
Due to the unpredictable nature of the British weather, drivers should also check that their tyres have adequate tread depth which is essential for maintaining good grip in the wet. Last year, many areas of the UK received twice their average August monthly rainfall.
“Tyres have to cope with an extreme range of conditions so drivers should regularly inspect them to make sure they are in a good condition,” continues Jackson. “Tread, pressure and condition checks only take a few minutes to carry out and ideally should be done at least once a month or before a long journey such as going on holiday.”
Current UK law states that car tyres must have a minimum of 1.6mm of tread across the central three quarters of the tyre tread, around its entire circumference. Drivers whose tyres do not comply with these regulations greatly increase their chances of being involved in an accident, but also risk the face of three penalty points and a fine of £2,500 for each illegal tyre.
To help drivers check their tread depth, TyreSafe launched its ‘lifesaver in your pocket’ campaign last year, which gives drivers a quick and easy guide on the legality of their tyres using a 20p coin. A video of how to perform the check can be found on this website. Alternatively drivers should visit their nearest tyre fitting centre.
How to check your tyre pressures
– Check your tyre pressures at least once a month or before a long journey.
– Pressures should be checked against the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended level. This can be found in the vehicle handbook and on a plate which is often located inside the fuel filler flap or on the driver’s door sill.
– Check the pressure when tyres are cold (i.e. when you have travelled less than two miles).
– If you are carrying a full load of passengers or luggage or will be towing a trailer or caravan, tyre pressures should be increased in line with the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. Details can be found in the vehicle handbook.
– Ensure a reliable and accurate pressure gauge is used.
– Check the pressure in all four tyres not forgetting to check the spare tyre as well.
– While checking pressures, give the rest of the tyre a visual inspection. Remove any stones and other objects embedded in the tread. Look out for any bulges, lumps or cuts.
If you are unsure on any aspect of tyre pressure or tyre condition take your vehicle to an approved fitting centre and speak to the experts.
TyreSafe is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of the dangers of defective and worn tyres. TyreSafe has campaigned consistently to underline the importance of tyre safety for more than 15 years and was rewarded with the Prince Michael International Road Safety Award in 2001.
TyreSafe receives positive support from many major tyre manufacturers and retailers, and has been credited with reducing the number of defective tyres in the UK over the past decade from 18% to 12%.
TyreSafe is a signatory to the European Road Safety Charter which was launched in 2004 with the aim of halving the number of deaths on European roads by 2010.
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