Have you got a grip on your tyres this winter?

  |  Published: Oct 27th 2017

As October draws to a close, it’s time to start thinking about the winter months ahead – warm coats, hearty stews, Christmas shopping and, of course, the crucial job of checking your tyres.

Here’s a few useful hints and tips on making those all important tyre checks so that you and your vehicle are ready for the next few months of potentially adverse weather.

Q: Why should I check my tyres? 
A: On average, 1,075 road casualties every year are from defective tyre related incidents.  

Tyres should be inspected at least once a month and before any long journey. Checks should include checking the air pressure, overall condition and tread depth. And don’t forget to check the spare or the compressor and sealant if no spare was fitted!

Properly cared for tyres help to reduce car running costs and prolong tyre life. 

Q: What should I do when checking my tyres?
A: Tread depths should be checked to ensure they meet the legal minimum regulations. Pressures should be checked in line with the vehicle manufacturers’ recommended settings. Take care to increase the pressure if the vehicle is heavily loaded as shown in the car makers recommendations. The tyres should also be given a thorough visual inspection to look for any cuts, lumps or bulges. Also look for any objects embedded in the tread which should be removed.

Q: Why is tread depth important?
A: Adequate tread depth is essential for good grip on wet roads as the tread pattern helps to remove water from between the tyre and the road surface. Drivers with insufficient tread depth face longer stopping distances, reduced grip and an increased risk of aquaplaning.

Q: Why is the correct tyre pressure important?  
A: To stay safe on the road your car needs to have the correct tyre pressure. If the tyres are under or over inflated then handling and grip will worsen, potentially causing irregular or unpredictable car behaviour.

Tyres with insufficient air are also more likely to suffer from a sudden rapid deflation and will suffer premature wear on the outside edges of the tyre. The wheel rim and tyre will be more susceptible to impact damage.

Over-inflation results in a less comfortable ride, a reduced area of contact with the road giving less grip and accelerated wear on the tread centre.

Q: How do I check my tyres?
A: To test your tyre pressure you need an accurate pressure gauge. Take off the dust cap on the valve, fix on the pressure gauge and take a note of the result. If your tyre needs extra air, you should inflate it using an air pump at home, or use the facilities provided in many petrol stations. If the tyre is overinflated according to the pressure chart, you can allow air to escape whilst the dust cap is off. 

When your tyres are at the right pressure, take off the air pipe, make sure there's no dirt in the valve, and put the dust cap back on.

A quick and easy way to see if your tyre tread exceed the minimum legal tread depth is to take the 20p test. Simply place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of your tyre. If the outer band of the coin is obscured when it is inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit.

If the outer band of the coin is visible, then your tyres may be illegal and unsafe and should be checked immediately by a qualified tyre professional. When taking the test, remember to check at least three locations around each tyre. As the test is so quick and easy, stay safe by checking your tyres at least once a month.

20p test (image credit: Tyresafe.org)
20p test (image credit: Tyresafe.org)
Tyre tread (image: Getty)
Tyre tread (image: Getty)
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