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Is Your Vehicle Tyre Safe?

Motorists are failing to check the condition of their tyres, which could have fatal consequences.

One of the most important safety features any vehicle can have is a good set of tyres. Tyres play a vital role in vehicle performance, handling and safety. Your tyres carry the full weight of your vehicle, while at the same time providing all of the grip for acceleration, steering and braking.

Unfortunately, the importance of good tyres in maintaining vehicle safety is often overlooked or taken for granted. Tyre faults are noted in half of all fatal crashes where vehicle defects are a contributing factor.

Guidelines for choosing and maintaining your tyres:

  • No tyre is perfect for all driving conditions. When choosing tyres, you should select those which best suit your vehicle and the kind of driving you will be doing.
  • Long-life tyres made of hard components usually last longer than softer tyres, but may not grip as well. A tyre with a big “footprint” (the surface area of the tyres which makes contact with the road) will provide a good grip in dry conditions. In wet conditions it may have trouble removing water from the road surface and may not grip as well.
  • Mixing tyre types can interfere with driving control. Having tyres of different size and/or construction fitted to the same axle is both dangerous.
  • The only part of a tyre to wear under normal use is the tread. Retreading is a means of extending the life of a worn but otherwise good tyre. Quality retreads can provide an alternative to fitting new or used tyres. Light vehicle tread must comply with an approved standard. Some experts discourage the use of retreads if a vehicle will be driven at substantial high speeds or in high performance situations.
  • Ideally, replacement tyres should be renewed in sets of four, to maintain constant vehicle handling and responses. If this is not possible, tyres should at least be replaced in pairs on the same axle.
  • Car manufactures recommend replacement tyres be the same type as the originals fitted, to maintain all round driving performance.
  • No matter how well a tyre is made, how long it lasts, and how well it performs depends largely on how it is treated. Taking good care of your tyres means safe driving, routine tyre inspections and changing the wheels around - tyre rotation, to help ensure that they wear out evenly.
  • Correctly balanced wheels will ensure smooth and vibration-free running and improve tread life, as well as extending the life of the vehicle’s suspension and steering components.
  • Having your tyres inflated properly could save your life and will certainly save you money. Under-inflated tyres will increase fuel consumption, while too much inflation can mean an uncomfortable ride and reduced grip.
  • Both under-inflation and over-inflation will cause your tyres to wear out prematurely. Under-inflation causes premature wear on the edges, while over-inflation causes the centre to wear out.
  • Correct tyre pressure is vital for balanced breaking, good handling and long tyre life. The inflation of all tyres - including the spare should be checked once a month, while the tyres are cold.
  • Good tyre tread is necessary to maintain road grip, especially in wet weather.
  • Standards require tyres to have treadwear indicators in the tread pattern to show when the tread depth is less than 1.6mm. In most cases, if the tread on the tyre is level with these indicators, the tyre should be replaced.

Well maintained tyres will hold your vehicle securely on the road, allowing it to stop, start and manoeuvre safely. Worn out, incorrectly inflated or unsuitable tyres may not. For your own safety and that of others, your tyres must be in good condition, properly maintained and appropriate for your vehicle.

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