When the weather starts to warm up, these tips will help keep your tyres in top condition throughout summer
Your car’s tyres are the contact point between your car and the road. They work under extreme stresses and keep us travelling safely on our journey.
So good tyre care is a vital part of car maintenance and you should check them regularly, especially before you head off on a longer trip.
Now, we may not always have the best of weather in the UK, but the temperature can still regularly rise above 30C during the summer months. And the temperature on the tarmac gets even hotter, which can take its toll on your car’s tyres.
An unexpected tyre failure could ruin your summer break, but even worse, it could also lead to a car accident.
So here are a few tips on how to look after your summer tyres, to help you avoid getting stranded by the roadside this summer.
Winter or Summer Tyres?
Winter and summer tyres are made from different rubber compounds.
The compound used in winter tyres works best when the temperature is consistently below 7°C. Once the temperature starts to rise above this point, the rubber used in winter tyres starts to heat up too quickly. This causes a faster rate of wear.
Summer tyres are made from a rubber compound that works more effectively at temperatures above 7°C. But they harden quickly and become less effective at colder temperatures.
Winter tyres also have a different tread pattern and deeper grooves in the tread, which give better grip in cold and wet conditions. But that also means that they don’t work as effectively once the temperature starts to rise.
When to Swap to Summer Tyres
If you have all-season tyres on your car, then you don’t need to worry about when to swap from winter to summer tyres. Your tyres will be effective throughout the year, as long as they are kept in good condition.
But if you’ve been running winter tyres on your car during the colder months, you should swap to summer tyres once the average daily temperature rises above 7°C. Don’t swap as soon as there is a warm day or two, this could just be a random spike in temperatures. But once the temperature is consistently warmer, it’s time to swap to summer tyres.
And that’s a good time to give your summer tyres a proper check over to make sure that they’re still in good condition after spending the winter in storage. You might need to replace them, and if you’re looking for tyres in Birmingham, Plume Tyres can offer a wide range of budget and premium tyres.
Check the Age of your Summer Tyres
Before you fit your summer tyres, it’s a good idea to check their age. Tyres should last around 10 years, but can age prematurely. due to physical and chemical factors.
You’ll see the signs of ageing as small cracks appearing in the sidewall of the tyre. This can be caused by UV light oxidising the rubber compound, which causes it to dry out. Tyre compounds often include anti-oxidising compounds, but as these are only released when the tyre is in motion, tyres can quickly become unroadworthy if they are not in regular use.
The tyre’s date of manufacture is shown as a four digit code, printed on the side of the tyre. The first two digits represent the week of production (from 01 to 52) and the second two digits represent the year of manufacture.
A 3 digit number means that the tyre was manufactured before 2000, and you should replace it right away.
Check your Tyres for Damage
Tyre damage can cause your tyres to fail suddenly and dramatically. It may be caused by impact between the tyre and the kerb, a pothole, or debris in the road.
You should also have your tyres checked out after you have had to execute an emergency brake. A sudden stop like this can leave flat spots, which can result in the sudden failure of your tyres.
So check your tyres regularly for signs of damage such as cuts, lumps and bulges. And if you notice any damage in your tyres, you should get them checked as soon as possible by a tyre specialist and replace them if necessary.
Check the Balancing
If you have been storing your summer tyres in a garage over winter, remember to have them balanced when they are fitted to your car.
Poorly balanced tyres will cause uneven wear on the tyres, which means they will need to be replaced sooner. Checking the balancing now will save you money in the long run.
Don’t forget the Spare Tyre
If one of your tyres does fail while you’re out on the road, the last thing you need is to find that your spare is out of action as well.
So when you’re checking your summer tyres, make sure you pay attention to your spare tyre as well.
And the same goes for any tyres on caravans and trailers, which might have been out of use over the winter months.
Remember basic tyre maintenance
Throughout the summer months, it’s important to keep on top of basic tyre maintenance. You might be planning a UK staycation or heading off for a European road trip, and tyre failure would really spoil your holiday.
As well as the basic care tips below, it’s also a good idea to try your best to park your car in the shade when possible. This will help to keep the sun off your tyres when they are not in use.
Tyre pressure is an important part of car maintenance, and you should check this at least once a month, and preferably every week. If you are planning a long car journey, it’s a good idea to check your tyres before you go, along with other basic checks such as your oil and windscreen fluid.
There are several reasons for checking your tyre pressure regularly, and the most important of these is safety. Under inflated tyres can overheat and fail, and they can also lead to poor road handling.
Your car will also be less fuel-efficient if the tyres are not maintained at the correct pressure. So you’ll spend more on petrol or diesel as well as increasing carbon emissions.
Make sure you check your tyre pressure when the tyres are cold, to get an accurate reading.
You’ll find the correct pressures in your car’s handbook, and often on the door sill or inside the fuel flap. They may be different for the front and rear tyres and for different loads, so check carefully.
As the tread on your tyres 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.
The legal limit for minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm, which 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 penalty points on your licence as well as a fine.
But for the best braking performance, you should replace your tyres when the tread depth reaches 3mm.
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. You should check them as soon as possible and replace as required.