Admit it, you just jump into your car and as long as there are no odd sounds or strange vibrations then you will drive for endless days without a second thought about what is really important…routine checks. Groan, we all know that we need to make sure our oil, water and washer jet fluids are topped up...oh and enough fuel for the daily school run and commute, but how often do you think to do a visual and physical check of the only part of your car that comes into contact with the road? Yes, I mean those dirty, grubby, chunky, expensive black rubber boots – tyres.
Statistics show that more than 40% of all vehicle accidents in 2013 occurred as a result of having defective, illegal or under-inflated tyres. Despite this, drivers seem to put tyre maintenance down as an 'after thought' rather than a high priority.
Tyre pressure is very important. Too high and your steering will be too hard to control as it will be very light, you will wear the centre section of the tyre quickly (as that is the only part touching the road) not to mention the tyre could explode. Too little air in your tyres wears the outer tyre edge and can cause tyre wall damage; you will also notice very heavy steering. Either way, incorrect pressures will severely affect your stopping distances.
The legal wear limit is 1.6mm of tread across the central 75% of the tyre and you can buy a handy tool to measure it, however it’s getting too technical, so let me introduce the simple 20p coin depth indicator method.
It’s easier if you can put full lock on so that your tyres are more accessible. Take a 20p coin and insert it into the groove of the tyre tread. The band on the outer edge of the coin is the limit, so if you can see any of the border edge of the coin then it’s time to change your tyres. You must check a number of points across the width and circumference of the tyre and check all four tyres, not just the fronts.
While inspecting your tread depth take a look at the whole tyre and look out for any bulges, bubbles, splits or cracks on the side wall. All are indicators that something is not quite right.
You don’t have to be a trained mechanic to do these simple driver checks. Early detection could save you an awful lot of time and aggravation at the roadside – not to mention it could prevent an avoidable accident. Pressures and depths should be ideally checked once a month and it only takes a few moments.
If you have any doubts – ask the garage to quickly check your tyres for you. Although you may feel they are out to unnecessarily lighten your wallet, they will usually happily demonstrate to you what defects they have found. Would you rather buy a tyre or collect 3 penalty points and up to a £2,500 fine per defective tyre? Ouch!
So, this Sunday morning while treating your car to a wash and wax, please give your tyres a once over.
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