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Essential Tyre Safety Tips

As the only part of the vehicle in contact with the road, your tyres endure a lot of wear and tear over their lifetime and it’s important that you keep a close an eye on them in order to stay safe on the road. Gradual tyre tread wear is one factor but potholes, curbs and emergency braking can take their toll and damage your tyres prematurely.

Don’t leave it until you have a tyre blow out; taking care of your tyres can be as simple as a regular check on their condition every two weeks or so. Here’s a few things you should be looking out for and how you can prolong the life of your tyres:

Check Your Tyre Pressures

Tyres lose pressure over time particularly during warmer summer months. Incorrectly inflated tyres can have several undesirable effects including poor steering, rapid and uneven tyre wear, and increased fuel consumption. Above all, failing to check your tyre pressure regularly is a safety risk as tyres that are not properly inflated are a major cause of tyre blow outs.

Check your vehicle handbook for your recommended front and rear tyre pressure. The correct tyre pressures for your car is often also printed either in the sill of the driver’s door or on the inside of the fuel flap.

You can check your tyre pressure at home using a digital tyre inflator or by visiting a garage forecourt where air is available for a small charge. Alternatively visit your local Tyre City and we will check your pressures for you for free – that’s the Tyre City difference.

Check Your Tread Depth

The tread on your tyres grips the road when you brake to help bring your car to a stop. However, as tyre tread wears out, your braking distance increases. The legal limit for minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the breadth of the tyre and around the full circumference. That means driving on any tyres with less than 1.6mm of tread could result in a hefty fine and penalty points on your licence if pulled over. Many vehicle manufacturers recommend changing tyres when they reach 3mm of tread to maintain optimum braking performance.

You can check your tread depth using the tread wear indicators moulded into the tyre tread groove which are raised to the level of the minimum tread depth (so if the rest of your tyre tread wears down to this level, it’s time to replace your tyre) or by using a 20p piece. Simply place the coin in the tyre groove. If you can see the outer border of the 20p piece it means your tread depth is less than 3mm and you should replace the tyre.

Check for Damage

Poor road conditions can have a negative effect on your tyres; impacts with potholes and other objects in the road, or sidewall impacts such as hitting a curb, can result in cuts, lumps and bulges forming on the tyre particularly on the sidewall. If you notice a bubble-like bulge when checking your tyres (remember to check the inner side as well as the outside of the tyre) you should take immediate action and have your tyre checked and replaced as soon as possible.

Debris from the road such as nails, screws and bolts can easily become embedded in the tyre tread but may only result in an unnoticeable slow puncture at first. If you spot any kind of foreign object embedded in your tyre get it checked out asap. It may be that the tyre can be repaired but the longer you leave it, the more likely the tyre is to become damaged, even on runflat tyres.

Checking alignment

Ensuring your wheels are correctly aligned helps to increase the lifespan of the tyres and reduces fuel consumption, saving you money in the long run. Wheel alignment involves making small alterations to the position of the wheels in relation to one another and the road so that your tyres wear evenly. Tyre City recommends getting your alignment checked every year but if your car pulls to the left or the right it may be an indication that your alignment is out.

Tyre City uses Hunter four wheel alignment equipment which is widely regarded as the most accurate alignment technology in the industry. Using laser guided imaging sensors, the Hunter Hawkeye equipment can identify even the tiniest changes required to improve your wheel alignment.

Tyre rotation

Tyre rotation involves moving the tyres from one position on the vehicle to another so that tyres wear more evenly and last longer. However, the act of tyre rotation is no longer recommended. Instead, at Tyre City we believe that the best tyres with the most tread should always be fitted to the rear of the vehicle and many tyre manufacturers agree.

This is because in the unfortunate event of a tyre blow out, it is easier to control the vehicle if this occurs at the front of the vehicle. For handling and stability reasons, we recommended that new tyres be fitted at the rear of the vehicle, irrespective of whether the car is front or rear wheel drive.

Of course, there are exceptions such as where the front and rear tyre size differs or where a mixture of asymmetric and directional tyres are in use, however we believe fitting the best tyres at the back is the safest option.

Tyre Age

Even if your tyres still have lots of tread, old tyres are more prone to tyre failure as the rubber in the tyre can oxidise causing them to dry out and crack. This is most likely to occur on tyres fitted to a vehicle that is not in regular use and tyres that are in storage. Tyres that are 6 years old or more should be checked regularly by a professional to ensure they are still safe to use. You can check the age of your tyres yourself by looking for a four-digit code located in a window on the tyre sidewall which shows the date of manufacture. The first two digits refer to the week of production during the year (i.e. 1 to 52) and the second two digits represent the year.

Here, the code is 3715 - where 37 denotes the week of production and 15 represents the year, so the date of manufacture was the 37th week of 2015.

Selecting the right tyre

When purchasing a tyre it is vital that you buy the correct size and type for your vehicle. Our expert staff can offer impartial advice on the best tyre for your vehicle based on your driving requirements and budget.