Tread Carefully – make sure your Tyres are Safe and Legal

September, 2012 TSG_PTIMG_0006_CarCrash
Almost half of all car accidents are caused when a car skids. The condition of your tyres – your vital link with the road – could make the difference between life and death. It doesn’t matter when or where you’re driving; whatever the speed or conditions, your only contact with the road is your tyres. It makes sense to keep them in top condition  – not just to be legal, but to be safe on the roads.
Tread in water
Accidents are twice as likely in wet weather so tyre condition is even more important. The purpose of the tread on tyres is to allow the tyre to grip in the wet and squeeze out huge volumes of water on the surface of the road .

For example, at 60mph, with a water depth of only 3mm, the tyre has to clear over two gallons of water per second! 3mm of water on a rainy day is not unusual and in puddles, you’ll often find as much as 8 to 10mm.

If this water isn’t rapidly dispersed, the tyre will begin to “aquaplane” – a sheet of water builds up between the tyre and the road – and the tyre loses all contact with the surface of the road. This is extremely dangerous.

The capacity to disperse water is drastically reduced with low and worn tread depth – so carefully monitor the depth of tread on your tyres – it could be the difference between life and death.

Keep it legal  
Apart from the obvious reasons of safety,  drivers face stiff penalties for worn, bald or defective tyres and could even lose their licence. Each bald or defective tyre carries a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points so if all four aren’t up to standard you could be looking at  a fine of £10,000, 12 points and an automatic ban.

Driving convictions must be be declared to your insurer

Tyres must have a tread depth of 1.6mm in a continuous band around the centre three quarters of the tyre.

These levels represent the absolute minimum and tyres as worn as this should be replaced immediately.

To help you judge how much tread you have on your tyres, manufacturers often mould tread bars at roughly 1.6mm. If you can see these bars your tyres are about to become illegal and unsafe.  If the edge of a 20p coin isn’t completely covered by a tyre tread then you need a new tyre urgently.

Research conducted by the independent automotive research and testing centre, MIRA, has proved there’s a significant deterioration in wet braking distances when a tyre wears below 3mm.

Worn out early?
Tyres often have to be replaced long before their ‘specified life’ usually because of rapid or uneven tread wear.

The most common causes of avoidable tread wear are:

  • Under inflating – causes rapid wear along the edges of the tread.
  • Over-inflating – causes rapid wear along the centre of the tread.
  • Incorrect wheel balancing – causes bald spots around the tread of the tyre.
  • Incorrect wheel alignment or ‘tracking’ – causes rapid wear along the inside or outside edges of the front tyres.

Always make sure you’ve got the correct tyres for the make and model of your vehicle and while there are considerable price differences in the cost of tyres, fitting and alignment, be sure that safety isn’t compromised by price.

Regularly check tyre pressures and always when tyres are cold so as near to the start of a journey as possible.

Keep the locking wheelnut in a safe place in the car - it’s not much use if you breakdown and it’s safely at home in the garage!


Sourced from Saga

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