In the United Kingdom, October is Tyre Safety Month. At Eco Green Equipment, we would like to take advantage of this opportunity to shine a spotlight on the importance of routinely checking your car tyres. The tyres on your car are the only points of contact between the vehicle and the road. Your abilities to start, stop and steer all depend on your tyres. It might surprise you to find out that the contact surface area between each tyre and the asphalt is about the size of the palm of your hand. If your tyres cannot grip the road properly, it is more challenging for you to react to changing road conditions and hazards.
Roughly only one in five UK motorists regularly check their tyres for problems before heading out on the roads. You probably wouldn’t leave on a trip without checking for gas and buckling your seat belt. Checking your tyres is quick and easy to do and is an essential addition to your driving routine. Organizers of this initiative at TyreSafe suggest monitoring your tyres by checking the big three areas of tyre maintenance represented by the acronym ACT – air pressure, condition, and tread.
Motor vehicle tyres have a recommended internal air pressure rating. As this pressure can vary from one vehicle to another, it is best to check your vehicle’s manual for the recommended pressure. The current pressure in the tyre can be easily checked using a tyre pressure gauge. If the pressure is too low, you can top it off at just about any petrol or gasoline station. A properly inflated tyre will have a longer wear life, save you money on fuel, and improve your vehicle’s handling. Because you will have the ability to react to hazards on the road quickly, there is a greater chance that you will be able to avoid a crash.
If you know what to look for on a tyre, it is easy to spot potential problems before they leave you stranded on the road. Run your hand over the walls of the tyres, feeling for cracks or bulges in the rubber. Both of these irregularities can be an indication that the walls are beginning to fail. Cracks in the walls occur most often when the rubber becomes brittle. It is usually the result of a type of dry rot known as tyre rot. It does not mean that your tyres are going rotten. Tyre rot occurs with long term exposure to UV light and the air outside. Driving on tyres that are coming apart on the sides is not safe. If you find signs of degradation in the tyre walls, you may need to replace your tyres even if they still have tread left.
The tyre’s driving surface, also known as the tread, is usually the surface that determines the life of a tyre. The patterns in the tread channel water away and help the car grip the road as you drive in rain and snow. As this layer wears down, the ability of the rubber to grip the road decreases significantly. By the time you get down to less than 3mm of tread, the tyre’s performance is greatly reduced. While you are checking the amount of tread left, look at the tyre’s wear pattern. Is the tread wearing down faster on the inside or outside of the tread? Uneven wear can be an indicator that it is time to rotate your tyres. It may also point to problems with the alignment of your vehicle.
The minimum tread required in the UK is 1.6mm. In the United States, this number varies from state to state and is measure in 32nds of an inch. However, recent surveys show that many motorists drive on the road with less than the minimum tread. This practice is not only dangerous, but it can get you into trouble with the law. If caught, you can be subject to monetary fines and receive points against your driver’s license. It is best to keep an eye on the wear and replace the tyres when they are spent.
When it is time to replace your tyres, it is always best to change all four tyres at the same time.
However, it is not always necessary or cost-effective to do so. It is safest to change at least two tyres at a time. Replacing both tyres on one axle keeps the car balanced. While it may not seem environmentally friendly to throw away tyres that still have some tread on them, waste tyre recycling is becoming a common practice. The remaining rubber can be recycled into a variety of products. You can feel good about keeping yourself and the environment safe.
Monitoring and keeping your tyres in good condition can go a long way towards protecting you and your passengers on the road. Make checking your tyres part of your driving routine and have them inspected at your local tyre shop if they are looking worn out.