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Tyre safety tips

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The only parts of a car that should be in contact with the road are the tyres. They act as a cushion between the road and the body of the vehicle, often functioning at high speeds, and are vital to the safety of the vehicle. Here are some tips for keeping tyres in top condition.

Tyre Pressure

A tyre can only function properly if it is correctly inflated. The air inside a tyre gives it structure and allows the tyre to provide cushioning and traction. Conversely, an underinflated tyre is a potential safety hazard, and also increases friction between the outer tyre and the road, slowing a car down and decreasing its fuel efficiency. Tyre pressure can be checked at car dealerships such as T W White & Sons, where professionals will be able to give advice on appropriate pressure levels. Alternatively, you can check tyre pressure yourself with a gauge at a petrol station. The recommended tyre pressure for a particular tyre should be indicated on the wheel itself or on a label on the driver’s doorframe. Tyre pressure should be checked every month and before every long distance journey.

Car tyres
Niklas Emmerich Photography /  CC BY-NC-SA

Tread Depth

In order to maintain optimum levels of grip, a tyre must have a sufficient amount of tread. The legal limit in the UK for tread is at least 1.6 mm across 75% of the tyre, owners of cars with less tread than this face a fine of up to £2,500 per offending tyre. It is particularly important to have good levels of tread when driving in unfavourable conditions, such as when there is a lot of water on the road or when it is icy. The 20 pence technique allows you to quickly check if you have sufficient tread. If, when a 20p piece is placed between the tracks of the tread, the inner rim of the coin is still visible, then the tyre may have insufficient tread and may need replacing. When checking tread levels, it is also important to look out for abnormal wear and damage such as cracks and bulges in the tyre.

Rotate Tyres

Very often, over the lifetime of a car it may end up turning in one direction more than the other. For instance, when turning clockwise at a roundabout, as we do in Britain, this increases the instances of turning right. Front wheel drive cars, such as  may also be harsher on the front tyres during breaking. These and other tendencies can cause uneven wear on tyres, creating an imbalance in the way a car handles. To avoid this, and to get the maximum life out of each individual tyre, it is important to rotate tyres every 6,000 miles, or as instructed in the owner’s manual.

Use the right tyre

A tyre may be in perfect condition but if it is used in an inappropriate environment it may not be able to function to the best of its abilities. In very wet conditions, special tyres with water dispersing tread can heavily reduce the likelihood of aquaplaning. Meanwhile, snow tyres have very wide tread that improves grip on snow but can result in heavy wear in normal conditions. For a review of the best winter tyres, visit autoexpress.co.uk.