Tyre Safety Advice

Keeping your tyres safe involves a number of actions. These include maintaining tyres that are not worn or damaged. It also involves having the right tyres for the weather conditions around you, including using proper tyres during the winter. Safe tyres mean that your vehicle passes the MOT test. More importantly, maintaining safe tyres reduces the risk of damage to your vehicle and potential danger to you, your passengers and other road users.

Tyre Structure

Tyres must be fit for purpose and not have any defects that might result in damage to the road. They must also not be damaged in a way that endangers people. Driving with damaged or worn tyres on a motor vehicle or trailer puts drivers at risk of receiving a fine. It is against the law to operate a motor vehicle or trailer with potentially dangerous tyres. You can also invalidate your car insurance by using worn or damaged tyres.

Fit for purpose means that the tyres must not having any lumps, bulges or tears as a result of separation or failure of the tyre’s structure. It also means that the tyres must not have any cuts or tears that are more than 25 millimetres or ten per cent of the tyre’s width, whichever is greater. The ply or cord must also not be visible. Each tyre must also be compatible with others fitted on your motor vehicle or trailer. Tyres that do not meet these guidelines should be replaced.

Tread Depth

Maintaining proper tread depth is essential for keeping your vehicle and others safe. The tread is the part of the tyre that is in contact with the road. Worn tyres do not have the same ability to grip the road in the same way as tyres with the right amount of tread. Tyres with little or no tread could cause accidents on wet roads. This is because the tyre does not have the grooving necessary to channel water out, which results in hydroplaning. The inability to control your vehicle is also reduced in snowy conditions.

Minimum tread depth will depend on the type of vehicle. For passenger vehicles with up to 8 passenger seats, the minimum tread depth is 1.6 millimetres. This is also the case for goods vehicles and light trailers with a gross weight of 3,500 kilograms or less. Larger vehicles and motorcycles with 50 cc engines and over must have at least 1.0 millimetres of tread depth. Other motorcycles under 50 cc and mopeds must have the original tread pattern visible.

Tyre Pressure

Maintaining properly inflated tyres will optimise their performance. This means that the tyre lasts longer and provides a more comfortable ride, and gives you the control and stability they were designed to deliver. Properly inflated tyres also helps to maximise the fuel economy of your vehicle. Underinflated tyres are difficult to control and could lead to a dangerous blowout. This is because the tyre is in greater contact with the road, which generates more heat that could lead to a blowout that may result in you losing control of your vehicle. Overinflated tyres are more prone to damage, especially when driving over debris on the road or potholes.

Tyres need to be inflated to correctly to the recommended pressure, as indicated by manufacturers and in your vehicle’s manual. When you are inflating your tyres, always confirm the correct pressure outlined in your manual. It is always a good idea to check your tyre pressure once a month. Since tyres lose pressure quicker in hotter temperatures, you should check your tyres more frequently during the summer.

Wheel Alignment

It is important to keep wheels properly aligned. This helps ensure that the vehicle is safe and efficient, and behaves in the way that was intended by the manufacturer. Wheels can become misaligned with everyday driving and other factors, including driving over a pothole or hitting a kerb. Wheels that are out of alignment can become unstable, especially when taking evasive action. This can affect your ability to handle the vehicle safely.

Misaligned wheels also increase the rate of wear on your tyres. Wheels that are not properly aligned could lead to certain wheels wearing more than others. Having the alignment of your wheels checked increases the durability of your tyres. Rotating tyres at least once a year will also reduce disproportional wear on your tyres. Properly aligned wheels can add thousands of miles to the lifespan of the tyre by preventing premature wear, which will help you save money. It also improves fuel economy and early tyre disposal, which also helps the environment.

Cold Weather Tyres

When temperatures drop, the ability to control your vehicle also decreases. Temperatures of under seven degrees Celsius means that the grip level of regular tyres is reduced. This is because rubber becomes less flexible in colder weather. The ability of a tyre to grip properly can mean the difference between stopping or manoeuvring effectively and a collision. Adapting your driving style to cold weather conditions including going slower can reduce the chances of skidding or a collision.

One of the best ways to improve safety and performance is to buy cold weather or winter tyres. Winter tyres are designed with tread patterns that disperse slush. They also provide improved grip in cold and damp conditions, making them ideal for driving in cold weather as well as snowy and icy conditions. You will need to buy a second set of tyres and potentially a second set of rims if you don’t want to use the same ones throughout the year. As an alternative, all-weather or hybrid tyres are designed for use throughout the year.