If you’re planning a road trip, follow these simple steps to make sure your car’s tyres are in top condition
I love a good road trip, and will always take any opportunity to get out on the road. Whether I’m taking my car on a ferry over to Ireland, heading northwards to visit Scotland, or just travelling through the winding country lanes in Shropshire, it’s always a fun way to travel.
When you’re planning for your next road trip, it’s really important to make sure that your car’s tyres are in good condition. After all, they provide the contact point with the road, keeping us safely on our route. And ignoring good tyre care is an easy path to your road trip ending in disaster.
Luckily there are some simple steps for good tyre care. Follow these simple steps to help to keep your tyres in better condition and prolong their life.
Check your Tyres for Damage
Tyre damage can be caused by impact between the tyre and the kerb, a pothole or debris in the road. So you should check your tyres regularly for any signs of damage, such as cuts, lumps and bulges.
This kind of damage can cause the tyres to fail suddenly. So if you notice any damage, you should get your tyres checked as soon as possible by a tyre specialist.
You should also have your tyres checked out after you have had to execute an emergency brake. Stopping the car suddenly like this can leave your tyres with flat spots, which can also result in sudden failure of your tyres.
Driving around the countryside in Shropshire inevitably means that I come across potholes, sharp stones and debris in the road. And damage from these may eventually mean that I need to replace my tyres.
Luckily if I need to buy tyres in Birmingham I can head to the local Point S garage, and their helpful staff can assist with all sorts of tyre related problems. If you’re not in the Birmingham area, you can find Point S branches in locations all across the UK.
Check your Tyre Pressure
Checking your tyre pressure is a vital part of car maintenance. You should be checking this at least once a month, and preferably every week.
There are several reasons for checking your tyre pressure regularly, the most important of these is safety. Under inflated tyres can overheat and fail, and they can also lead to poor road handling.
Under-inflated tyres will have a decreased contact patch with the road, and this can cause uneven tread wear. You’ll also find that the tyre tread wears more quickly, which means that you’ll have to replace your tyres sooner.
And if your tyres are under-inflated, it will increase rolling resistance. This means you’ll use more fuel to maintain the same speed than if your tyres are at the right pressure. This will increase your fuel cost as well as increasing the CO2 emissions from your car.
You’ll find the correct tyre pressures for your car in your car’s handbook. They are also often printed in the sill of the driver side door or inside the car’s fuel flap. You may find that they are different for the front and rear tyres and for different loads, so check the details carefully
Check the Depth of your Tyre Tread
When you apply the brakes in your car, the tread on your tyres grip the road, stopping the car in the shortest distance possible. And as tyre tread wears out, your car’s braking distance increases. So it’s vital to make sure that your tyres have sufficient tread on them, and you should check this regularly.
For optimum braking performance, you should replace your tyres when the tread depth reaches 3mm.
The legal limit for minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm. This depth needs to be maintained across the central three quarters of the tyre’s width and around the full circumference of the tyre. If your tyres fall below this legal minimum, you could receive a hefty fine and penalty points on your licence.
You can use a tread depth gauge to check your tyres, or alternatively a 20p piece also works. If you place the coin inside the tyre’s main tread groove, you should not be able to see its rim. If you can see the outer band of the 20p coin, your tyres could be approaching the legal limit. They should be checked as soon as possible.
Check the Age of your Tyres
In theory, your tyres should last around 10 years, but physical and chemical factors can age tyres. This can even happen to tyres that are rarely or never driven on.
Tyre ageing can be seen when small cracks start to appear in the tyre’s sidewall. This is caused by UV light oxidising the tyre rubber, causing it to dry out. Tyres often contain anti-oxidising chemicals which slow down the ageing process, but they are only released when the tyre is in motion. So tyres that are not used frequently can quickly become unroadworthy.
So older cars which spend a lot of time in storage may not have roadworthy tyres, even if the tyre tread looks good.
You can check the age of your tyre by finding the date of manufacture, which is printed on the side of the tyre. It is a four digit code, with the first two digits representing the week of production (from 01 to 52) and the second two digits representing the year of manufacture. If your tyre has only a 3 digit number, ,it was manufactured before 2000 and should be replaced right away.
Tyre ageing can increase the risk of tyre failure, so you should check tyres that are 6 years or older to make sure that they are still roadworthy. Don’t forget to check any spare tyres, as well as tyres on caravans and trailers. If you have a second set of tyres (such as winter tyres), they also need to be checked before you have them re-fitted.
Check where your Tyres are stored
This last tip doesn’t apply to everyone, but you should check how you are storing any spare tyres or additional tyres that you have. Tyres that are not in use should be kept in a cool, dry, covered area away from sunlight. This makes sure that the tyre rubber is protected from heat and UV light.
Tyres without rims should be stood upright and you should lay tyres with rims flat, one on top of the other. You should also make sure that they can not come into contact with grease, petrol or oil.