Your tyres are the only the connection you have with the road. You might be thinking, “Doesn’t everyone know that?” and you’re not wrong. Yet, despite this common knowledge amongst drivers, most auto owners across the world delay or neglect their maintenance altogether. That negligence can be the difference between making it home safely after work and crashing into a guardrail on the highway. When’s the last time you checked your tyres?
According to TyreSafe’s 2015 Tyre Safety Month study, 65% of UK drivers need to check their treads more often. In other words, a majority of tyre owners are neglecting their safety and endangering the lives of other drivers. TyreSafe’s study painted a frightening image of UK roads with over a quarter of tyres (27.3%) having an illegal tread depth of 1.6mm or less. That’s 10 million tyres in 2015 alone! If that didn’t catch your attention, maybe the penalty will. In the UK, you could face a £2500 fine and three penalty points for each illegal tyre on your vehicle! Imagine how much you could have saved when comparing the price of new tyres against a potential £10000 fine.
Let’s pretend that wasn’t enough to convince you and move on to some other facts.
If you aren’t actively maintaining your tyres, expect to see a decline in your vehicle’s braking, cornering and gas mileage while your CO2 emissions go up. Just think, neglecting your tyres affects everyone’s safety, your wallet and the environment in one fell swoop! Even a tyre that looks safe could be worn beyond its use. And unless you are driving a mega-horsepower racecar on dry surfaces, you shouldn’t be driving on less than recommended tread. A tyre with even half its tread can be a massive liability on the road.
A Consumer Reports study found that, “tread can give up a significant amount of grip when it’s still at the halfway point.” That should be worrisome enough for drivers. However, some–whether their reasoning be cost, procrastination or something else–drive their tyres to the point they are “bald”, or lack any tread. This is incredibly dangerous. Bald tyres massively increase your risk of an accident on any conditions, especially wet roads. When your tyres lack the ability to channel water from beneath its tread, the vehicle is likely to hydroplane, where the car skims the water surface and can no longer work with the steering wheel.
Another study, this one from the Japan Automobile Tire Manufacturers Association, found that a vehicle going 80 km/h can expect a 10 metre breaking difference on wet surfaces when using worn tyres. That’s about two car-lengths, or the difference between breaking in time and slamming into the car in front of you.
To avoid these dangers, make sure to check your tyres at least once a month. This doesn’t mean a quick glance at your tyres or relying on your car’s TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring system) either. If you aren’t sure how to do it, follow Highways England ACT safety plan. It shows you how to use a 20p to safely determine if your tyres meet the 1.6mm or higher mark for legal tyres in the UK. If you’re still not sure, be sure to consult your tyre professional.
When it comes to purchasing and outfitting your vehicle, not all tyres are alike. Depending on your location in the world, you may require tyres for certain seasons. In certain European countries if you don’t change to winter tyres by a certain date it is illegal and even invalidates your insurance on the car.
Anyhow this may seem obvious to most car enthusiasts and other drivers, but there remains a large number out on the world’s roads that have not put these steps into action. If you or someone you know falls into this category, do yourself a favor and reconsider the importance you place on auto maintenance. It very well could save your wallet, your life and the life of others on the road.
So, what are you waiting for? Go check your tyres!