Friday 8 March 2019

The safety risks of worn tyres

* Collaborative post

When it comes to car safety and maintenance one of the most important checks drivers should make is the condition of the vehicle’s tyres.

For safety it is imperative that tyres are checked on a regular basis, with responsible drivers checking tyre pressure, tread depth, ensuring tyres are fit for purpose and looking at overall condition of tyres to ensure there is no sign of defect or damage.

When it comes to tyre tread depth there are safety and legal consequences if tyres are worn. As the safety risks of worn tyres are an accident waiting to happen we are going to take a look at tyre tread depth and the safety risks associated with worn tyres.

What is the role of tyre treads?
Treads provide the traction necessary for tyres to grip the road. Good treads are vital for driving safely in tempestuous weather such as rain, ice, snow or mud.

Over time as tyres are used the tread gets worn off which limits the effectiveness in providing traction and a solid grip on the road. As such driving on wet, icy or slick roads with worn tyres would mean the car would be difficult to control and the risk of accidents would be much higher than driving a vehicle with good tyre tread depth.

What is the legal tyre tread depth?
In the UK the legal tyre tread depth for cars is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre. By law the tread must meet this minimum requirement across its complete circumference. Whilst 1.6mm is the minimum legal requirement many tyre experts recommend changing tyres at 3mm tread for improved safety.

How to check tyre tread depth?
Tyre tread depth can be checked a number of ways. Drivers can check by looking at the tyre tread wear indicators on the tyres, if the tyre is flush with the wear indicators then the tyre is worn below the legal limit and needs replacing. They can also be checked using a tyre tread depth gauge.

What are the safety risks of driving with worn tyres?
As worn tyres are a leading cause of accidents let us take a look at safety risks of worn tyres -

* Blowouts
As thick treads help reduce the chance of suffering a blowout when driving, if driving with bald tyres you have an increased risk of having to deal with a sudden blowout. A sudden blowout when driving especially in situations when driving at motorway speeds can cause a catastrophic outcome.

* Air leakage
Worn tyres can suffer from loss of air pressure as they lose air faster than tyres with good tread depth. As they can lose air and become under-inflated they pose a risk. Improperly inflated tyres do not grip the road well, even in dry weather conditions, which impacts on steering and control of car. Under-inflated tyres also effect braking.

* Hydroplaning
Hydroplaning (aquaplaning) is when a layer of water gets between the tyre and road which causes the tyre to lose its ability to grip the road and can cause the car to loose control. Tyre treads contain deep grooves that move water away from the tyre to ensure a firm grip on the road is maintained. But when a tyre is worn the groove is shallower or non existent and grip on the road can be affected by water on the road which means the risk of hydroplaning is higher.

* Hot tyres
As driving creates frictions between the tyres and road which generates heat, tyres need to withstand heat. To help tyres cope with heat caused by friction treads cool the tyre by allowing air to flow in between the grooves. But when tyres are worn there are no grooves for air to flow through and heat can built up to unsafe levels. Too much heat increases the risk of a blowout which can cause loss of control and accidents.

* Poor grip

As tyres with insufficient or no tread depth provide less or no traction driving with worn tyres means drivers would have to deal with unsafe handling especially in poor driving conditions and inclement weather. This is especially true when driving in snow or icy conditions when worn tyres providing poor grip can cause loss of control and spin outs which can have dire consequences.

What are the legal implications of worn tyres?
If tyres are found to below the legal minimum tread depth limit of 1.6mm in the UK the police have the power to issue up to a £2,500 fine and 3 penalty points per tyre.

Illegal tyres can also invalidate your car insurance so if you have an accident when driving with worn tyres you will risk having no insurance to cover you. Also if tyres are not fit for purpose, are different sizes on the same axle or have passed the legal tread depth limit they will cause your car to fail its MOT.

Be safe: replace
If your tyres are worn or damaged be a responsible driver and ensure you get tyres replaced. If you are unsure whether your tyres are safe and roadworthy get them checked at a local tyre branch. To keep you on the road safely get tyres at competitive prices at Elite Direct Tyres Loughton Branch. Whilst the temptation to save money and carry on driving when tyres are nearing the legal tread depth or are already worn might be appealing to some, the risks of driving with worn tyres are too vast and high so be safe and replace.

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