Drivers are being advised by TyreSafe, the UK’s leading tyre safety organisation, that they can minimise the damaging effects of driving over potholes by making sure their tyres are correctly inflated.
Hitting a pothole can cause serious internal tyre damage, which may result in dangerous sidewall bulges, or result in cuts to the tyre which may expose cords, rendering it both dangerous and illegal.
It has been estimated that in 2010 there were 8,000 pot hole related claims to insurers and the early signs are that 2011 will exceed this due to the damage caused to roads during the freezing weather.
Local authorities are also facing pressure as to which roads they prioritise for repair due to cuts of up to 20 per cent in road maintenance budgets. According to the Local Government Association, Councils in England and Wales face a £165m funding gap to repair roads damaged by the winter weather.
Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe, comments: “Potholes can cause significant damage to wheels and tyres. It’s therefore important for drivers to ensure their tyres are properly inflated to reduce any potential damage. If they do suffer the misfortune of hitting a pothole, drivers should make sure both their wheels and tyres are thoroughly inspected by a professional for signs of damage. This may occur in the form of cuts or bulges in the tyre or, as we have seen increasing cases of, hairline fractures appearing in alloy wheels.
“In fact, whatever time of year it is motorists should always check their tyre pressure at least once a month and especially if they are planning any long journeys.”
Other effects of hitting a pothole include wheel misalignment. If there is significant misalignment the car may pull to one side or cause vibrations in the steering wheel which can be distracting and make the vehicle difficult to control. In less severe cases this can go unnoticed by the driver yet still result in increased or irregular tyre wear and higher fuel costs.
“Many garages and tyre dealers offer free tyre safety inspections for drivers. Properly equipped workshops can also perform some quick and simple checks to make sure the wheels are properly aligned,” adds Stuart Jackson.
If motorists are unsure of the correct tyre pressure for their car, they can visit the TyreSafe website at www.tyresafe.org and enter their vehicle’s registration details or by downloading the TyreSafe iPhone App.
Alternatively, details can be found in the vehicle manufacturer’s handbook, inside the fuel filler cap or on a sticker inside the driver’s door sill.
How to check your tyre pressures correctly:
– Check your tyre pressures at least once a month.
– Tyre pressures should be checked against the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended level which can be found in the vehicle handbook and on a plate which is often located inside the fuel filler cap or on front door sills or pillars.
– 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, pressures should be increased in line with the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.
– Ensure a reliable and accurate gauge is used.
– Check the pressure in all four tyres not forgetting the spare.
When checking pressures, give the rest of the tyre a visual inspection. Remove any stone or 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 a qualified specialist.