This wouldn’t make much of a Trivial Pursuit question, but it’s still good general knowledge to have. October is National Tyre Safety month, and you don’t have to be a car nerd to still benefit from some basic knowledge about the 4 rubber rings that connect your car to the earth.
The current campaign by TyreSafe is asking the question ‘What’s Stopping You?’.
Not just ‘what’s stopping you from checking your tyres’, but ‘what’s stopping you from hitting that car in front’, which is a salient reminder that taking care of your tyres really is. a) easy and b) important.
Here are some of the most common questions we hear about tyres, with a quick summary and links to other resources you may find helpful.
A: There are 3 main checks you should be performing regularly on your tyres.
The first is a visual check for any obvious signs of wear such as bulges, cuts, particularly worn patches, or even nails or other objects embedded in the tread which could cause a slow puncture or increase the risk of a blow out.
The second check is tyre tread depth which can be done with either an inexpensive device, or a simple 20p piece.
The third check is the tyre pressure, which again can be done with an at-home gauge, or most fuel stations have a machine that’ll take your £1 in exchange for 5 minutes of air.
Visual checks should be performed every few journeys, tread depth checks every month.
A: The legal limit for tread depth is 1.6mm, though braking and handling performance will start to reduce below 3mm. A brand new tyre typically has 8-9mm, but this wears away over time.
You can check your tread depth with a special gauge, or a 20p piece is also a handy substitute. The middle 2/3 of your tyres should have a minimum of 1.6mm tread showing, and this blog tells you how you can use your 20p coin to check that this is the case.
NOTE: Driving with tyres below the legal limit could land you with a £1000 fine per tyre if you were stopped by the police, and your car wouldn’t pass its MOT.
Q: Do my tyres affect my steering?
A: A study by Kwik Fit found that more than one in eight motorists said that the steering on their cars pulled to one side or the other.
Wheel misalignment is one of the most frequently identified mechanical issues, and although it’s easily remedied it can quickly start to cause problems.
Q: How do rain and wet roads affect tyre performance?
A: I’m sure you remember all of your stopping distances from your driving test (Click here for a link just on the off chance that you don’t!), but the advice for when it’s wet is to double the distances.
At 30mph on a dry road stopping distance is 23m, on a wet road it’s 46m.
At 60mph on a dry road stopping distance is 73m, on a wet road it’s 146m.
And don’t forget, these numbers are for tyres in excellent condition. When you get down to 3mm tread depth estimates are to add another third on top of these distances.
This blog gives you more advice on wet weather driving, including information on aquaplaning and potholes.