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How to Check your Tyres

October means Tyre Safety Month in the automotive industry, which is a time to raise awareness of tyre safety. The campaign, which is administered by TyreSafe, aims to inform drivers of the dangers of driving on illegal and unsafe tyres and encourage vehicle users to check their tyres on a regular basis.

A survey undertaken by TyreSafe revealed that more than a quarter of motorists had an illegal tyre on their vehicle at the time they were replaced, confirming fears that millions of road users may be driving on illegal tyres*.

As well as breaking the law and resulting in points on your licence and a potentially large fine, when it comes to safety, driving on illegal tyres is dangerous. For example, a tyre with low tread depth will not respond as it should whilst driving. Braking distances are increased and gripping capabilities are reduced.

To check your tyres, ensuring they remain safe and legal, simply undertake these few steps every month.

Check your Tread

check your tread

Tyre tread depth will wear over time, but it is important to monitor this and ensure that you replace your tyres before the tread drops too low. The legal minimum is 1.6mm, however, we recommend changing your tyres as soon as the tread depth falls under 3mm. This is because with a tread depth below 3mm your tyres will not be able to perform to their full potential on the road and could pose a threat to your safety on the road, particularly when driving in wet conditions.

An easy way to keep an eye on tread depth is by undertaking the 20p test every three weeks. This is a simple test designed to check tread depth and can be undertaken easily at home. Take a twenty pence piece and place it into the main grooves of your tread.

If the outer band on the coin remains visible, then your tyres are below the optimum safety level, and may be illegal. In this situation, you should take your tyres to be inspected by a trained tyre specialist.

Don’t forget that you need to check your tyre in at least three locations, this is because tread depth can wear inconsistently, so you need to ensure that your tyre is definitely legal. If your tyres are wearing unevenly, you should speak to a specialist as this may be a symptom of another issue such as incorrect wheel alignment.

Check your Pressure

Every three weeks and before undertaking long journeys, you should be checking your tyre pressures. This is because under or over inflated tyres can affect handling and safety on the road and can be a contributing factor to punctures, unreliable grip and even tyre blowouts.

Keeping your tyres at the correct pressure is also beneficial for your economy as it reduces running costs and helps them to wear more evenly.

You can check your tyre pressures easily and cheaply at most surface stations by using an air pressure gauge to measure them. You need to ensure that the pressure of your tyres meets the recommended pressure specified. If you do not know the optimal tyre pressure for your vehicle, simply look in your vehicle handbook to find the ideal figure.

Check your Condition

It also pays to visually check the condition of your tyres every few weeks and this can be done easily at home. Simply inspect the outer and inner sidewall for damages such as cuts, lumps and bulges. If you do find any instances of these, you should have your tyres inspected by a specialist immediately as they could be warning of internal tyre damage.

You should also make sure that your tyres are free from debris such as stones. If foreign bodies are left embedded in the tyre tread they could work into the casing and cause damage, which could lead to more serious issues such as a slow puncture.