National Tyre Safety Month

October is national tyre safety month. During the month-long campaign, organised by TyreSafe, motorists will be encouraged 'Don't chance it - CHECK IT!'

TyreSafe surveys have revealed one in five drivers has never checked their tyres, and the number of illegal tyres on Britain's roads will remain at 10 million, and could increase. 

Drivers who are found with illegal tyres are now imposed with a £2,500 fine and three-point penalty, and more importantly have increased chances of being involved in an accident.

Stuart Jackson, Chairman, TyreSafe said: "Tyres are a safety critical component on any vehicle and the only one in contact with the road, and while modern vehicles give occupants a far greater chance of surviving a collision – even walking away uninjured – well-maintained tyres will significantly reduce the risk of being involved in an incident in the first place. That’s why Tyre Safety Month’s message this year is Don’t chance it – check it.”

And of course one of the best ways to ensure that drivers are up to date date with information, advice and tips is to talk to those in the know. At Lookers we are very fortunate to have a resident tyre expert on hand in the form of Service Adviser Graeme Searl.

Graeme has been working in the Glasgow Audi division for three years helping customers with every type of aftersales query from service bookings to final invoice of repairs! In total he has more than 15 years of experience working with major brands. Luckily for us too, Graeme has recently completed specialist tyre safety training.

He took some time from his busy day helping customers to answer some important questions that could ensure you and your family stay safe on the roads.

1. Why is tyre safety so important?

When you consider that the contact area for each tyre is the size of the palm of your hand it makes you realise just how important they are! The brakes stop the wheels, not your car; it’s actually your tyres that stop it. There are of course legal consequences if your tyres are not roadworthy and these include penalty points and fines. In bigger terms ensuring that you, your passengers and other road users are safe is what ultimately matters

2. How often should tyres be checked?

Ideally every week but at a minimum every month and before heading off on long journeys. Motorists should look at pressure, tread, cuts and any bulges. A tyre can actually be underinflated without looking flat so be careful when taking a reading.

Tread depth can be easily checked with a 20p. Place the coin in the grooves of the tread. If you can see some of the outer edge of the 20p, then your tyres may be illegal and will gave a bigger breaking distance in the wet.

This test should be performed on all parts of the tread, on all four tyres.

3. What is the minimum legal tread depth?

1.6mm across 75% of the tyre. However, the deeper the tread the more grip you have. When the tread is less than 3mm for instance the performance of the tyre will begin to reduce significantly.

4. Why is tread depth important?

Good tread will ensure driving performance is enhanced as the car will grip more securely to the road. In the event you need to break quickly stopping distances will be shorter with tyres with deeper tread.

5. Why is tyre pressure important?

Maintaining the correct tyre pressure is as important as giving your engine a tune up. With the right amount of air pressure your tyres wear longer, save fuel, enhance handling and prevent accidents. The effects however of not maintaining correct tyre pressure include poor petrol mileage, loss of tyre life, poor handling (and possibly even loss of control).

6. How many miles can I expect from my tyres?

This will depend very much on how they are used and is therefore very conditions based.

A set of tyres well maintained and used solely for motorway driving can return a much higher mileage by comparison to poorly maintained and driven badly in a city centre and urban environment.

7. Should tyres be changed through the seasons?

For optimal performance motorists should consider using summer tyres during the months April to October and then from November to March cold weather tyres are recommended. Indeed there is a legal requirement in some European countries for drivers to keep two sets of tyres for these periods.

Winter tyres use a tread rubber compound (high silica content) and tread pattern specifically designed to retain flexibility in low temperatures (below +7C) and give good braking/traction performance on snow/ice as well as on wet roads in cold conditions .

Summer tyres on the other hand summer tyres will give better performance when temperatures are higher and roads dry.

8. Should I fit four new tyres at a time?

While it is better to fit four new tyres at the same time, this may not always be realistically possible. Fitting two tyres at a time, and as a pair, to enable the best handling and grip on each axle is therefore the next best thing.

9. How can I get the best use from my tyres?

By combining everything we have talked about, above. And specifically: check your tyres Air pressure, Condition and Tread at least once a month –just remember the acronym ACT!

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