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What Are Your Tyres Telling You?

Author of the article

By Saoirse McClure Fisher

calendar 15-02-2022 tag MAINTENANCE clock 2 min read

With Summer holidays coming towards a close, thoughts are turning to the next sun-filled getaway. Whether you’re hitting the beach, mountain tops or a weekend in the country-side, it’s time to pack up your car and set off with friends and family on a driving holiday for that last summer trip.

But as well as sunshine, the last few weeks of summer bring a significant surge in traffic. Statistics from the Department for Transport* show that in 2018, popular tourist routes saw an increase up to 25% in August, so it is essential to keep tyre safety in mind.

But as well as packing the essentials, there are some other vital checks drivers and holidaymakers should undertake before putting the pedal to the metal and clocking up those holiday miles.

While it may not be the most exciting aspect of your plans, checking your tyres is one of the most important. The condition and state of tyres are what keep drivers safe, and being able to recognise when tyres are showing signs of wear and what that means are the most important aspects of staying safe on the road.

We’ve created this bite size guide to share all you need to know about understanding what a tyre is telling you.

Why is it so important to check your tyres in the warmer months?

When the temperature of the road goes up, so does the temperature of your tyres, leading to an increase in tyre pressure . If left unchecked, this could eventually make the tyres burst or cause them to prematurely wear and interfere with steering and breaking. This requires drivers to know how to recognise the signs of overheated tyres.

The best way to see if a tyre is struggling with the heat is to check if the tyre is hot to the touch or has excessive air pressure.

Inversely, when temperatures fall, tyre pressures drop. If you continue to drive with underinflated tyres, too much of the tyre’s surface area touches the road, increasing friction. Friction causes tyres to overheat, prematurely wear and even blow out.

How can drivers check that their tyres are roadworthy & legal?

A quick and easy way to see if the tread on your tyres our tyre exceeds the minimum legal tread depth is to take the 20p test .

Simply place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of your tyre. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when it is inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit, if not then your tyres are not roadworthy and your car won’t pass its MOT.

What are the signs of an underinflated tyre?

Shoulder wear- meaning that the inside and outside edges of your tyres are worn, but the centre is still in good shape. This causes the outside edges to wear away at a faster rate than the centre, causing several issues for your vehicle.

What are the signs of an overinflated tyre?

Centre wear- meaning the tread is worn in the middle of the tyre and the full contact patch of the tyre tread is not being optimised and so the proper width of the tyre is not in full contact with the road.

How do you know if your alignment is out-of-spec?

Tyre alignment, or the adjustment of the system that connects and controls the motion of the wheels, is an essential component of what allows you to control your vehicle. Improper tyre alignment will mean there is ‘feathering’ on your tyres, or tread blocks shaped like ramps in a sideways direction, causing tyres to wear unevenly and prematurely.

What are the indicators of faulty shock absorbers and suspension components?

If your tyre has ‘scalloped’ edges, or the appearance of a series of hills and valleys on the tyre, this could be a sign that they are not properly connected to your vehicle. This reduces breaking efficiency and increases the risk of skidding on wet surfaces.

How do you know if you’re going too hard on the turns?

If there is outer-edge wear on your tyres, you need to slow down on the corners! Cornering too fast puts more pressure than expected on the edges of the tyre, potentially leading them to leak and deflate.

What would a tyre look like if the brakes weren’t functioning properly?

If the tyre has flat spots- meaning it has predominately normal tread with noticeable smooth spots this could be the result of poor brakes and would need to be investigated by a mechanic.

What are the fines for driving cars with illegal tyres?

The fines for driving with tyres that are the legal tread limit are eye watering. Drivers can be fined up to £2,500 per tyre and given three penalty points if the tread depth is less than the legal limit of 1.6mm.

This means that a driver with four part-worn tyres that do not meet the minimum requirements could immediately lose their licence and be fined up to £10,000.

And lastly, don't forget, if your tyres are showing signs of age or excessive wear before you travel you can quickly review prices and buy new tyres .

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