Whilst is may not seem like an exciting or glamorous topic, it’s extremely important to assess the safety of your tyres regularly.
There’s a few ways that this can be done.
Checking the sidewall
One of the easiest ways to check if your tyres is safe is to have a look at the sidewall. If there’s any cuts or bulges on the sidewall, then it should not be used. The reason for this is that the structural integrity of the tyre has been severely compromised. As the tyres heat up during the normal course of a drive, they will expand slightly.
If there is a cut or bulge in the wall, then it makes it increasingly more likely that there could be a blowout in the sidewall. This could have fatal consequences. Likewise, putting on a glove and running your hand over the sidewall is another way to feel for any lumps or cuts that might not be readily visible to the naked eye.
Checking the tread depth
The next thing to check on is the tread depth of the tyres. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm. However, I, and many others, usually swap out the tyres when they reach 3mm. The reason for this is that over half of the tread depth is now gone, and it’s ability to stop in both decent and poor conditions is greatly reduced. If anything, make sure that an appointment to have the tyres swapped out is arranged at the 3mm mark. It can be tricky sometimes to get an appointment right away, so it’s good to be prepared and plan in advance.
There’s also the implication that if you drive with tyres that are below 1.6mm not only can you get penalty points for every tyre that is below this limit, but also a fine. Pretty soon, the money saved on not swapping out the tyres could be superseded by the costs involved with the fine. Lastly, if you were in the unfortunate position to have been the cause of an accident and it was found that your tyres were below the limit, it could invalidate your insurance.
Thankfully, checking your tyre depth is really easy. I’ve got a depth gauge that was £1.50. All you need to do is push the probe into the tread and it’ll tell you the depth of it. Be sure to take it at a few spots around the tyres (just in case there’s uneven wear). You can check all four tyres in less than a minute, so it doesn’t make sense not to do this.
Checking the pressures
The last tyre safety check that you must do is to check the pressures of the tyres. If the pressures are too low, then this will increase the rolling resistance of them. Not only is this bad for fuel consumption, but it also wears down the tread a lot quicker. In addition to this, it also makes it harder to stop the car in a hurry, which is a huge safety concern.
With respect to checking the pressure of the this can be done in a few ways. In more modern cars, they have a pressure sensors in the wheels to let you know when you need to inflate the tyres. Some cars even have a pressure display available in real time on the dashboard. The other way is to purchase a handheld pressure checker. These are relatively inexpensive (less than £10) and are a great, quick way to cheek your pressures. The pressure for your car can be found in the user handbook, as well as inside the door jamb on either the driver or passenger side.
The other option is to go to your nearest petrol station and check the pressures there. If the pressures are low, then you’ll be able to pay approx. £1 to blow up the tyres to the desired pressure. The alternative is to have a tyre inflator in your car. This is the option I have went for. The reason for this is that if I picked up a slow puncture, having the tyre inflator ready means that I can put enough air into the tyre so that I can get to the garage to have it repaired or replaced. There are a few tyre inflator types available. The most common one is a foot pump style.
The next is one the hooks up to the 12volt socket in the car and uses the electricity from the batter to power the inflator to put air into the tyres. The last (and my favourite) option is to use an inflator gun. This is a battery powered tyre inflator with a digital display on it so you can set the pressure to what you like. Then it’s just the case of hooking it up to the valve stem and inflating the tyre. In the winter especially, it’s crucial that these steps are followed. You can check out our top picks of tyre inflator at this page. You should have a look at our tips and suggestions when it comes to preparing your car for the winter.