Regardless of the time of year you are travelling, ensuring that your tyres are at the legal limit and safe to use is essential.
Neglected tyres can lead to fines, penalty points and more importantly can significantly increase the chances of causing or being involved in an accident. These chances increase significantly if the road is wet or icy.
As a new driver, who has just completed their driving lessons with Surrey Driving Force, the desire to get out on the roads and the freedom of having your own car is often overwhelming and checking the condition of tyres is often forgotten.
However, you should always make the effort to check tyres for wear and tear and pressure on a regular basis – preferably before every journey, especially if it is a likely to be a long one.
Tip – If necessary, write it down in a diary or put a reminder on your phone if you have to.
Below are some of the things that you should look out for:
Tyre Tread depth
UK law requires that your vehicle is fitted with the correct type and size of tyre for the vehicle type you are driving and for the purpose it is being used. This means fitting the right tyres and for safety ensuring that they are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure.
The legal limit for minimum depth of the tread on your tyres is 1.6 millimetres, across the central ¾ of the tread around the complete circumference of the tyre.
For safety reasons it is recommended that you replace your tyres before the legal limit is reached. Many vehicle manufacturers recommend replacing at 3 millimetres. At 1.6 millimetres in wet weather it takes an extra car length (8 metres) to stop at 50 mph than if your tread was 3 millimetres.
A regular check of your tyres can help you to avoid 3 penalty points and £2,500 in fines (per tyre) for having tyres worn beyond the legal minimum limit on your vehicle.
You can find out the right tyre pressures for your car in the handbook or on a sticker inside the fuel filler flap or driver’s door. Remember that pressures are quoted for cold tyres and that you will probably have to increase pressures when you carry heavy loads.
In general the handbook or stickers will show two figures, one for ‘normal’ use and a higher figure for full loads. Be sure to adjust the pressures to suit the conditions.
If you can’t find details of the correct tyre pressures it’s best to contact the vehicle manufacturer – their websites usually give details of customer services departments. You will need to make a note of the size of the tyres fitted – taken from the sidewalls – as well as the make/model and registration number.
Aim to check pressures every couple of weeks, with the tyres cold, using a reliable and accurate tyre pressure gauge.
Having the correct tyre pressures is important for several reasons:
- Tyre life – under or over inflation increases wear
- Fuel economy – under inflation increases fuel consumption
- Safety – under or over inflation will affect grip and braking performance
- Ride – over inflation can result in a harsh, uncomfortable and skittish ride
When Is The Best Time To Check My Tyres?
Make sure that you check your car’s tyres when it is parked on a flat surface with plenty of room to get a good look.
As well as checking the tread depth and the pressure, you should also look for other signs of wear and tear that could result in a tyre being deemed illegal, such as cuts, tears and bulges, and exposed ply or cord.
Keeping your tyres in check will ensure that driving is safer and more efficient, lowering the risk of an accident and saving you money on maintenance and fuel.
If you would like any further details regarding the driving tuition available from Surrey Driving Force, please give us a call on 0845 190 2012 & we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.