Wednesday 24 June 2015

Keeping safe on the road – tyre safety.

As our family is growing with the impending arrival of our second child Jelly Bean due in July we recently decided to change our car, switching from a very compact car to a slightly larger car better suited for a growing family – a Ford Focus.

Whilst our new (second hand) car is nothing fancy having learnt a lot about car safety over my 13 years of being a driver – even learning how to do a basic service myself - I am passionate about making sure cars are safe and roadworthy.

The importance of making sure our car is roadworthy and safe is even more imperative now that I am a parent, not only because our children travel in the car but also because I don’t want to put myself or Lee at extra risk as I want us to be alive and healthy for many years to come for our children.

Whilst there are many factors that affect the safety and roadworthiness of a car, one car safety factor that is often overlooked is the importance of tyres.

Put simply tyres are essential for safe driving.

Tyres are the only connection your car has to the road.

They have 4 vital functions that affect safe driving –
* Provide grip for braking and acceleration
* Maintain steering and directional control
* Act as a shock absorber for vibrations from the road
* Support the weight of the car

As tyres are so important for safe driving if they are not in good condition the risk of an accident happening is greatly increase, as is the risk of an accident being worse than what it would have been if the tyres had been in excellent condition.

Not only are tyres that do not meet the required standard a safety hazard, they will also most likely not be covered by your Car Insurance Policy which could affect a claim if you have an accident.

Making sure your tyres are in good condition to help make driving safer is a very easy thing to do and tyres should be checked regularly.

Key points to look out for when checking your tyres are –
* tyre pressure
* tyre tread depth
* wheel alignment
* general condition of all tyres – checking for any unusual lumps or bumps
* signs of irregular wear
* ensuring your spare tyre is in good condition and safe to use in an emergency situation

Whilst all points are equally important, below I will look at the importance of tyre pressure and tyre tread depth in further detail.

Tyre pressure 
Checking your tyre pressure is a very easy and simple task. Tyre pressure should be checked on a regular basis and before long journeys.

Why should you check tyre pressure?

Checking tyre pressure helps extend the lifespan of tyres by reducing premature wear and keeping the wheel in good condition. Having the correct tyre pressure also helps reduce the risk of you the car becoming unbalanced on the road.

Top tip -

You will get a more accurate gage of the tyre pressure if you check the tyres when cold before driving.

Also as every car has a different pressure requirement if you are not sure how much air is needed in the tyres for your car, check your car’s manual or visit a local tyre garage for advice.

Tyre tread depth 
It is vital to regularly check the tyre tread depth.

The legal minimum tyre tread depth for cars is 1.6mm across 75% of the tyre. Recently there has been discussion of increasing the legal limit to be raised to 3mm as the minimum tread depth. The more tread depth the tyre has the better grip it will provide.

Why is tyre tread depth important?

Cars that have tyres without sufficient tyre tread depth increase the risk of an accident happening. Worn tyres increase braking distances significantly and the tyre tread depth is vital in the wet conditions as proper tread depth will help prevent skids and aquaplaning.

Not only is it important to ensure your tyres have at least the minimum tyre tread depth – ideally more – to make driving safe so that you are not putting yourself, passengers and other road users at risk but it is also important to stay within the law. Tyres that have an illegal tyre tread depth can mean police can issue a fine and penalty points on your driving licence.

Top tip

Whilst you can measure the tyre tread depth with a purpose made tyre tread depth gauge, if you don’t have one you can check the tread depth using a 20p coin.  To check using a 20p coin, slot the 20p piece between the main grooves of the tyre – if the outer ring of the coin is visible and not covered by the tyre tread then the tyre tread depth is not adequate and needs to be changed.

If in doubt take your car to a garage of car tyre specialist to be checked.

Replacing tyres

As it is costly to replace tyres it always pays to shop around and get the best deal.

To help you get the most for your money and make replacing your tyres a quick and easy process, which is always a bonus for a busy parent on a tight budget why not take a look at Point-S who are an UK tyre provider that sell a vast range of tyres online at reasonable prices. You simply choose the tyre/s required for your car online from a range of quality brands, select your nearest tyre specialist store for fitting and book a slot to get the tyres fitted so you are once again safe on the road.

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