Tyre Safety

Tyre Safety
During one of my most recent, all too frequent trips to a reliable tyre fitting company, I found myself looking at several large stacks of used, damaged and worn tyres.

I found myself drawn to the condition of some tyres, some of which had clearly been used well beyond the legal 1.6mm limit when they should have been replaced. Others were worn through the rubber compound and the base canvas was exposed and frayed.

Both of these examples had clearly been used well beyond their safe use on the public roads – the same roads you and I use every day.

So why is this a problem?

If you are driving with tyres with diminished tread you will find it harder to stop, you will have less grip to the road so if you need to stop abruptly you’ll be crossing your fingers as well as breaking.

Tyres that are too worn or structurally compromised will, at some point, fail.  This is commonly referred to as a blow out, and this will lead to an accident with little to no warning.

Consider this case study  – John see’s that it’s a nice day and decides to go for a drive. He puts the roof down, the stereo up, chair back, one hand on the wheel , the other arm resting on the door and sets off for a relaxing drive. On his journey he joins a dual carriageway which is a 40 MPH road, at this speed he is covering 17.88 metres per second (That is just under 60ft in old money) Another car is passing him in the other lane when suddenly he hears a bang coming from the front corner of his car, he spends the next 2 thirds of a second thinking about what has happened, during those precious moments he travels 12 metres and his car veers uncontrollably towards the passing car and collides with the back corner of it causing it to spin out of control.

You can make up the rest of that story yourself or simply open a random news paper and it may well be a contributory factor to one of the many “Driver loses control” stories.

So what good habits and practices could John have done to prevent this incident from happening?

  • Regularly  check the condition of your tyres – at least once a week
  • Ensure you always check them before you begin a long journey.

What am I checking for?

  • Wear and general condition
  • The pressure of each tyre

How do I do it?

  • Have a visual check of the tyre, ensure there are no cuts, scrapes, gouges or any other form of damage. Tyres often exhibit distressed cracking as they age too.
  • Check the tread depth all round the tyre. It should be 1.6mm across the central 75% of the tyre. Helpful tip – Every tread has several guides that are 1.6mm around the circumference.
  • Check the pressure when they are at cold, when the car hasn’t been driven recently.
  • Ensure the pressure gauge is reliable – the gauges at petrol stations are not always well maintained, calibrated or accurate.
  • Remember to replace the dust caps when finished.
  • You also have a spare tyre so remember to check that too.