Tyre quality, repair and maintenance is an important topic. Bad condition and quality tyres can be incredibly dangerous, and ensuring you have the appropriate tyres for your car can be absolutely lifesaving.
Bald tyres are incredibly dangerous. Performance is reduced, and in wet or icy conditions, is even more significantly reduced. Wet conditions without proper tread depth means that surface water has nowhere to run off which, which can lead to aquaplaning and loss of control, so it is imperative you ensure you keep your tyres in good condition and checked regularly. UK current minimum depths are 1.6mm of tread dept across 75% of your tyre. There is currently legislation in place meaning you can receive up to £2,500 of fine for driving with illegal tyres, and speed cameras are currently in development which will be able to measure tread depth and catch those driving on dangerous tyres.
You can have this checked as part of your MOT, or try the 20p test:
Simply place a 20 pence piece into your treads. If the 20 pence disappears, you probably have enough tread,. If however, the outer rim of the 20 pence is still visible and poking out of the tread, it is time to change your tyres.
Changes in labelling 2012 aim to educate drivers as to the more precise aspects of the tyres they purchase. European legislation will come in at the end of the year and will require tyres to be labelled with information on noise, wet weather performance and fuel economy. Safety performance will be shown by wet grip grading, from A-G.
Rating will be about how far tyres travel when slowing from 50mph to 12mph in wet weather:
- A labelled: tyres that stop 55% or more in front of the mark
- B Labelled: tyres that stop between 40-54% short of the mark
- C labelled: tyres that stop between 25-39% short of the mark
- D and G will remain blank for now
- E labelled: tyres that stop between 10-24% short of the mark
Which brand and type of tyres you buy is just part of the picture. How you drive, when and where will be having a huge effect on how the tyres wear and how often you will need to replace them, as well as hopefully having a bearing on which tyres you purchase. If you drive aggressively and don’t check their inflation, then they will be subject to much more wear than if you look after them and drive less aggressively.
Winter tyres have not always been seen as a necessity in UK conditions, but are becoming more high profile in light of recent winters, and have been pushed more heavily by manufacturers. Generally manufactured from a slightly different rubber, winter tyres also have different tread patterns. They can increase stopping distances by up to 50%, and will of course perform better in the winter conditions they are designed for, although many are suitable for year round driving.
Once you have purchased a new set of tyres, be sensible and keep them inflated to the correct PSI. This ensures the minimum amount of energy will be expended, meaning more fuel economy and less emissions. Not only this, but stopping distances and skid issues are at their safest when tyres are properly inflated, and wear and tear will be properly even, meaning you will need to replace them less often.