As the only part of the vehicle in contact with the road, your tyres endure a lot of wear and tear over their lifetime, so it’s important that you keep a close eye on them to ensure you’re safe while you’re behind the wheel. Gradual tread wear is one factor that will affect your tyres, but things like driving over potholes, hitting kerbs and emergency braking can take their toll and damage your tyres prematurely.
However, you shouldn’t leave it until you experience a problem with your tyres to inspect them. Taking care of these components can be as simple as checking the condition of each one every two weeks or so.
Here, we take a look at some of the most important tyre safety tips, including advice on how you can prolong the life of this part of your vehicle.
Tyres can lose pressure over time, especially during the warm 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 you’ll be at an increased risk of experiencing a tyre blow out.
Check your vehicle handbook for your recommended front and rear tyre pressure. The correct tyre pressure for your car can sometimes also be found printed on the sill of the driver’s door or on the inside of the fuel flap.
You can check the pressure at home using a digital tyre inflator or by visiting a garage forecourt where air is available for a small charge. Alternatively, you can visit your local Tyre City and our technicians will check your pressures for free.
The tread on your tyres can help your vehicle grip the road when you brake, helping you to slow down and bring your car to a safe stop. As tyre tread wears down, your braking distance increases, which puts you, your passengers and other motorists at risk.
According to the law in the UK, the minimum tyre tread depth is 1.6mm. This measurement is taken across the central three quarters and full circumference of the tyre. If you’re found to be driving with less than 1.6mm of tread, you could receive a £2,500 fine and three points on your licence per tyre. That being said, it’s worth noting that some vehicle manufacturers recommend changing your tyres when they reach 3mm of tread to maintain optimum braking performance, so you may want to replace your tyres before they reach this minimum limit.
You can check your tread depth using the tread wear indicators moulded into the tyre tread groove. These indicators are raised to the level of the minimum tread depth, so if the rest of your tyre tread wears down to this level, it may be time to replace your tyre.
Alternatively, you could use a 20p piece. Simply place the coin in the tyre groove. If you can see the outer border of the 20p piece, it’s likely that your tread depth is less than 1.6mm and you may need to replace the tyre.
Poor road conditions can have a negative effect on your tyres. Impacts with potholes and objects in the road, or sidewall impacts such as hitting a curb, can result in cuts, lumps and bulges forming on the tyre, especially on the sidewall. If you notice a bubble-like bulge when checking your tyres (remember to check the inside as well as the outside of the tyre) you should take immediate action and have the 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, you should get it checked out as soon as possible. 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 if it has inbuilt run flat technology.
Ensuring your wheels are correctly aligned can increase the lifespan of your tyres, as well as reduce fuel consumption - which can save 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 to ensure they wear evenly.
At Tyre City, we recommend that you get your alignment checked every year. However, if you notice that your car pulls to the left or right, it may be an indication that your alignment is out, so it’s important that you get this checked sooner rather than later.
At our centres, we use Hunter Hawkeye four wheel alignment equipment. This is widely regarded as the most accurate alignment technology in the industry and uses laser guided imaging sensors can identify even the tiniest changes required to improve your wheel alignment.
Tyre rotation involves moving the tyres from one position to another so that they wear more evenly and last longer. However, the act of tyre rotation is no longer recommended. 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. For handling and stability reasons, we recommend that you have new tyres 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. Our experts believe fitting the best tyres at the back is the safest option.
Even if your tyres still have lots of tread, older models are more prone to failure as the rubber in them 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 or tyres that are kept in storage.
As a general rule, tyres that are six 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 positioned on the sidewall. This is the date of manufacture. The first two digits of the code refer to the week of the year the tyre was produced, while the following two digits refer to the year.
For example, if the code is 3715, 37 represents the week of production and 15 represents the year. So, the date of manufacture for this tyre would have been the 37th week of 2015.