Important Tyre Checks

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Don Booker MBE gives some tyre tips

Most drivers never look at their tyres unless they have a puncture.

They should be checked before every journey because it is amazing how many flat tyres develop overnight or after long periods of parking. Running on ‘flat’ can ruin the tyre walls and wheel rim.

If one does much motoring in the South West, expect your tyres to show excessive wear. This is due to the road surface materials which contain sharper materials than in other parts of the country.

Around South Yorkshire, our tyres are given a rough time by the many pot-holes and really bad surfaces at road junctions. Correct tyre care and maintenance is critical for both the driver’s and passengers’ safety no matter what type of vehicle one is driving.

A battery may be the heart of a car, but tyres are the only parts which are in contact with the road. Safety in acceleration, braking, steering and cornering all depend on a small area of road contact.

The same criteria applies to caravan tyres because they spend more time not moving than cars and vans.

Half of breakdowns are caused by simple mechanical problems which could be avoided with checks. A quarter are tyre problems which also account for 40 percent of fatal or serious injuries caused by defect-related incidents.

Drivers also need to inspect the condition of their spare tyre and space saver wheel. Many drivers do not know they are carrying a spare and should be aware of how to use the repair kit provided by the manufacturer. This can be tucked-away in a corner of the boot or under the floor board.

If you have a tyre problem on a motorway, you should stand away from the car in as safe a place as possible and never attempt to change the tyre in this dangerous situation.

Alert a breakdown recovery service and await their help or that of a Highways England traffic official.

A three point plan to help avoid tyre problems:

1   Pressure – Correct tyre pressures are shown on a sticker in your car’s driver’s door frame, filler-cap or the manual. I tend to have a little sticker in the glove-box. Use a quality pressure gauge and beware of damaged air lines at petrol forecourts.

2   Condition – Small objects should be removed from treads. Bulges, cracks and cuts caused by hitting kerbs need to be checked by a tyre fitter.

3   Tread – A 20p coin can be used to check if the tyres’ depths are at least 1.6mm. Insert the 20p at several points across and around each tyre. If you can see the coin’s outer rim at any point the tyre is illegal and must be changed.

Considering the many miles that our tyres cover, they offer very good value. Punctures are rare, but sadly I find that if I get one, then I quickly get another.

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