It’s easy to forget about maintaining your tyres but given that they’re your only link between the vehicle and the road, take five minutes today to make the following basic checks and ensure their safety. Here’s how.
Ensure that you check the tyre pressure regularly, ideally every month. Over and under inflation of tyres will affect performance and may potentially mean that the car is unsafe to drive. Put simply, you risk losing control of the car if the tyre pressure is incorrect. Infact, low tyre pressure may increase fuel consumption. Refer to your handbook, or often there is a data panel inside the drivers door frame showing the recommended pressures. If you do need to alter the pressure, make sure that the car is cold.
It’s impossible to generalise here but note that the tyre inflation guide may give different pressures, either front and rear, of for different driving tasks, eg towing or very fully laden, so pay attention to these guides they’re there for your safety, and the handling of the car especially in an emergency could be compromised. If you’re going on a family holiday fully loaded with people and luggage you may need to adjust for that trip alone.
Wear and Tear
Look for any wear and tear on all tyres and also regularly check that the tread has not fallen below 1.6mm. This is a legal requirement and shouldn’t be ignored. It goes without saying that you need to replace your tyres immediately if the tread is below the legal limit. Falling foul of this means a fine and points on your licence.
If you look on the groove of the tyre there are intermittent ‘bump stops’ every so often – if the tyre is so worn that these are level with the top ridge of the tyre it certainly needs replacing.
Fit the best tyres at the rear
Fit new tyres to the rear of the vehicle (don’t forget that if you’re only changing two tyres, it’s possible to shift the older tyres to the front if you need to). The front tyres wear quicker and in difficult driving conditions, such as wet surfaces, it’s harder to control a car with tyres that are damaged at the rear of the vehicle.
Go easy on your tyres! For example, try not to make any sudden breaks or drive erratically as this can cause significant, unnecessary damage.
When replacing tyres, keep the same type and size throughout (refer to your handbook). If you’ve time, try contacting different retailers and online in order to get the best price. You can haggle, but ensure that the quote that you’re given includes the fitting.
If your budget can run to them it is worth buying winter tyres which have a much more aggressive pattern (See picture at the top of this guide) than normal road tyres and swapping them out during the summer, though you’ll need somewhere to store the spare tyres when you’re not using them.
If you live in a hilly or rural area where there is little gritting taking place they are especially worthwhile.
It’s a good idea to get into the routine of making the above checks regularly, which will, in turn, maintain the safety of your vehicle, improve fuel consumption and prolong tyre life.
- Anna Vaccaro