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Your essential tyre safety checklist

calendar Published on: Tuesday, 12th September 2017 | male icon Author: Kevin Thorpe

When it comes to your car, itís likely you rarely stop and think about the four things that get you from A to B on a daily basis - your tyres. As a driver, itís your responsibility to make sure that this part of your vehicle is in tiptop working order, and itís important to note that you shouldnít necessarily wait for your yearly service and MOT to roll around before you check the condition of your wheels.

So, to make sure your tyres are roadworthy, here are a few simple checks you can do yourself.

1. Tread depth

First and foremost, itís crucial that you check the tread depth of each tyre on your vehicle. Tread depth refers to measurement between the top of the tread rubber - the part of the tyre that makes contact with the road - and the bottom of the tyreís deep grooves. Having a sufficient tread depth is vital to ensure that your car can grip the road properly, especially in wet conditions, making it one of the most important checks you can do. Without adequate tyre tread depth, you are increasing your chances of having an accident while youíre out and about, putting the safety of you, your passengers and other road users at risk.

Itís also important to note that if you are involved in an accident and your car has tyres with a tread depth below the legal limit, your insurance claim could be deemed invalid. As a result, your insurer could refuse to pay out for any repairs needed, meaning youíll be left picking up the bill to fix your vehicle.

What the law says

Did you know itís actually illegal to drive around with worn out tyres? In the UK, the law states that every tyre on a car must have a minimum tread of 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tread around the circumference. If youíre stopped by the police and youíre found to have one or more with a tread depth below the legal limit, you could receive a hefty fine of £2,500 and three penalty points per tyre. This means if it turns out that all four of your tyres are breaking the law, you could be required to pay £10,000 and risk losing your licence altogether.

So, to protect not just your wellbeing but your driving status too, itís crucial that you get into the habit of checking your tyre tread on a regular basis.

How to measure your tread depth

To measure your tyre tread depth, you can use a special device called a tread depth gauge. This tool is designed to give a quick and accurate measurement of the depth of an individual tyre groove. From this, you will be able to determine whether or not your tyres need replacing.

Another way to check is to use the Ď20p testí. This is a simple, quick and easy way of assessing the tread depth of your tyres using 20p coin. Simply insert the coin into the grooves of the tyre and check if you can still see the outer band of the coin. If you canít see it, your tyre is above the legal limit. However, if you can see the outer band of the coin, itís likely the tyre is unsafe and needs swapping for a newer model.

Should you discover that one or more of your tyres are below the legal limit, itís crucial that you replace them - but you shouldnít necessarily wait until they get to the minimum threshold before you take this step. For safety reasons, many experts recommend replacing them once the tread depth gets to 3mm. This is because, in wet weather, itís thought that a 1.6mm tread depth is not enough to stop safely. If you decide it's time to replace your tyres, we can help; TyrePlus has tyres in stock for fitting in your area. 

2. Pressure

Itís important to measure the pressure of your tyres too. Without the correct pressure in each tyre, you could run the risk of not being in total control of your car. Under or over inflated tyres can cause unpredictable vehicle behaviour, and they can also affect handling and grip which can impact you when youíre driving. This is especially dangerous when you are driving at high speeds, such as on motorways. Incorrectly inflated tyres also waste money because they can increase fuel consumption and mean tyres wear out more quickly.

Working out the correct pressure

To find out the correct pressure for your tyres, you can refer to your carís manual. This should be able to tell you the pounds per square inch (PSI) in relation to your vehicleís tyres. The PSI is the number your tyres should be inflated to. Depending on the model of your car you may also be able to find this information on a sticker situated on the inside door on the driverís side.

How to measure each tyre

Once you know the PSI for your car, you will be able to measure each tyre to suss out if you need to inflate or deflate them. Checking your tyresí pressure is fairly quick and simple, and you can do this by using a digital tyre pressure gauge. You can pick one of these devices up from a garage and keep it in your car or at home. 

3. Wear and Tear

The truth is, your tyres put up with a lot on a daily basis, so itís perfectly normal for them to suffer from some general wear and tear. However, you may not always be aware of any damage unless you go out of your way to look for it. So, to keep your tyres in good condition, you should get into the habit of inspecting them regularly. If you notice anything unusual or something youíre not sure of, you should take the opportunity to get it looked at by a professional and replaced if needed.

When youíre checking them over, make sure you look at the surface of the tyre and use your hand to feel for anything that might be embedded into the rubber. You should also inspect them for cuts, bulges and signs of cracking on the sidewalls.

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