Bristol Street Motors' Tyre Safety Guide
I know you probably think ‘I have better things to do’, but you wheelie should check your tyres regularly!
Worn tyres are dangerous and with the winter weather beginning to set in, now is the time tyres need to be in tip-top condition to keep you and everybody else safe!
Also, do you really want to be changing a tyre in the middle of the motorway when it’s tipping it down with rain, or worse, be billed with a hefty fine?
We’ve put together this FAQ guide to answer any questions you may have about your tyres, including the legal requirements for tyres, the risks of worn tyres and what you should be checking for.
Legality and Checks
Q. What is the legal requirement for tyres in the UK?
A. Depending on your vehicle, depends on the legal minimum tread depth you should have.
Cars, Goods Vehicles (less than 3,500kg), Trailers and Caravans (less than 3,500kg) – At least 1.6mm of tread around its entire circumference and across the central three-quarters of the tyre.
Larger Vehicles – At least 1.0mm around its entire circumference and across the central three-quarters of the tyre. For the remaining quarter, you must be able to see the original tread pattern.
Motorcycles (50cc and over) – At least 1.0mm around its entire circumference and across the central three-quarters of the tyre. Again, for the other quarter, you must be able to see the original tread pattern.
Motorcycles/Mopeds (under 50cc) – You must be able to see the original tread pattern.
Remember: these are legal requirements, so please abide by them!
Q. How often should my tyres be checked?
A. You should aim to check your tyres every couple of weeks or, at a push, once a month!
Also, if you’re heading off on a long journey, just give your tyres a once over to make sure they can go the distance.
Q. What should I include in my tyre check?
A. Don’t worry, to check your tyres you won’t need to grab the overalls! Just make sure you check the air pressure, tread depth and overall condition.
Top Tip: Did you know you can check your tyre with a 20p coin?
Simply insert the coin into the lowest tread depth of your tyres. If you can’t see the outer rim around the edge of the coin, then your tyre is safe and has a minimum of 3mm tread depth. If you can see the rim of the 20p, then your tyre tread is less than 3mm and should be checked.
Q. How much will I be fined for driving with illegal tyres?
A. For each tyre on your car, you could be fined up to £2,500 and given 3 points on your license.
So, let’s do the maths…if all four of your tyres are not legally roadworthy, you could face a hefty fine of up to £10,000 AND 12 points!
The moral of the story? It’s just not worth it! Make sure your tyres are in tip-top condition to keep your money and license in your pocket!
Q. Why is tread depth important?
A. It keeps you and your passengers safe!
When travelling on wet roads, the purpose of the tread is to remove water from between the tyre and the road surface.
If you have poor tread depth you are:
- Increasing the risk of facing longer stopping distances, which can be extremely dangerous, especially in built-up areas or in situations where you need to perform an emergency stop;
- Putting yourself in danger of aquaplaning, which is where a build-up of water occurs between the tyre and the road, which causes a reduction in grip, making you lose the ability to steer, brake and accelerate;
- Increasing the risk of danger to you and other road users, because, with a lack of grip and longer stopping distances, an accident is more likely to occur.
Q. How much longer is the stopping distance in cars with bad tyres?
A. Having a longer stopping distance creates more chance of running into the back of another vehicle or increasing the risk of being unable to stop in time for last-minute hazards.
When a vehicle was travelling at 50mph in an independent test in wet weather, it was found that new tyres stopped 6 metres shorted than tyres on 3mm tread.
When compared against tyres with 1.6mm of tread, vehicles fitted with new tyres stopped 11 metres shorter!
That’s the same length as 3.5 double-decker buses! So, can you imagine what would happen is something suddenly stepped out into the road?
Ask yourself the question: Would you be able to stop quick enough with the tyres you have on your car now?
Q. Why is correct tyre pressure important?
A. Life can leave you feeling deflated sometimes, but you mustn’t let your tyres get like this.
If your tyres don’t have enough air in them, it can cause many issues.
They are more likely to pop mid-journey which can cause a major accident due to losing control.
It can also make your wheel rim and tyre more susceptible to impact damage and reduce the grip you will have on the road.
However, you must also make sure you don’t over-inflate your tyres.
This can lead to an uncomfortable journey, reduced grip and excessive wear to the tread centre.
You can even save money if you have the correct pressure in your tyres because they are more likely to last much longer than over/under-inflated tyres! Under-inflated tyres can also increase your fuel consumption, so not only will you be paying more out for fuel, you’ll be harming the environment too!
Q. Where can I find the correct pressure for my tyres?
A. This can be found in the vehicle manufacturers’ handbook as well as inside the fuel filler cap or driver’s door sill.
Q. What causes irregular wear of tyres?
A. Obviously, it is inevitable that tyres will eventually wear, however, there are some factors that can increase the pace of tyres wearing.
- Scuffing against kerbs;
- Misaligned steering;
- Aggressive driving;
- Over/under-inflated tyres;
- Worn suspension parts;
So, before you hit the accelerator and screech off into the sunset leaving tyre marks behind you, just think about the wear this will have on your tyres!
Q. How many miles can I get from my set of tyres?
A. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this. However, tyres are like anything else in life. If you take care of your tyres and drive sensibly, it will increase the life expectancy of them – just like how you look after yourself!
Q. Should I fit four new tyres at a time?
A. In a perfect world, yes.
Having four, brand-new tyres on your vehicle is the best result for your vehicle.
However, life doesn’t always go to plan.
So, the next best thing is to replace two at a time.
And, worst case scenario? A singular tyre can be replaced.
Q. Which is the best axle to place new tyres on?
A. New tyres on the rear axle provide better driver control on wet roads.
This is because tyres with deeper tread are better at displacing water and give a better grip.
If the new tyres are fitted at the front of the car, then it is more likely to oversteer when grip is lost in wet weather, which is much harder to control than understeer.
Oversteer is when the rear of the car slides sideways, and understeer is when the front of the car slides.
Q. Can I fit part worn tyres to my vehicle?
A. Okay, we know sometimes finding a cheaper way for something is normally a good thing, but when replacing tyres, fitting new tyres is the safest option.
However, legislation does exist which permits the sale of part worn tyres, subject to them meeting a certain standard.
The sale of part worn tyres that do not meet these legal requirements is not only a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection Act, but also poses a serious safety risk to drivers, their passengers and other road users.
So really, stay on the right side of the law and opt for new tyres.
Q. Are part worn tyres a cheaper alternative to fitting new tyres?
A. Part worn tyres will generally cost less money than new, however, they won’t last as long, costing you more money in the long run!
Also, you can’t put a price on the safety of yourself and your family, so we advise spending more on new tyres!
Q. Are their different tyres you can purchase?
A. You can buy special ‘run flat’ tyres or winter tyres.
Q. What are winter tyres?
A. These tyres are designed specifically for snow, ice, damp conditions and cold temperatures!
However, you do not have to have these fitted in the UK, but if you intend to travel from the UK to another country, you may be required to fit these.
For more information, visit the Department of Transport.
Q. What are special ‘run flat’ tyres?
A. Special ‘run flat’ tyres enable you to still continue driving (at a limited speed and limited distance) even when you have a puncture.
Please note: Standard tyres should not be run without air, or a puncture, as this can cause serious damage, that can be irreparable.
If you still don’t feel comfortable checking your own tyres, or you are unsure whether you need new tyres, do not fear.
Here at Bristol Street Motors, we offer a FREE tyre check which incudes pressure checks too!