Carmakers have come under fire in the last couple of weeks amid claims they are fitting Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) that are failing to warn drivers of deflating tyres.
Independent research by campaign group Transport & Environment has accused some car companies of cutting manufacturing costs by fitting cheap indirect tyre pressure monitoring systems.
These indirect systems use vibration and wheel rotations as proxies for pressure, as opposed to direct systems that actually measure the air pressure inside the tyre.
The report suggests these systems are only capable of passing lab-based European type approval tests, but fail to work on the road, putting drivers and other road users at risk.
This creates a scenario whereby thousands of motorists could be driving with dangerously under-inflated tyres because their vehicles warning system fails to alert them to a loss of pressure. Under-inflated tyres have more contact with the road, this can result in overheating leading to premature wear, tread separation and sudden loss of pressure which can lead to catastrophic blowouts.
Unfortunately, the safety scare has echoes of the Volkswagen diesel emissions tests scandal.
So where do motorists go from here?
First and foremost, these claims strengthen the argument that drivers should not just rely on technology for their safety. TyreSafe, the UK’s leading tyre safety charity, stresses that while the benefits of TPMS are widely recognised, it is important that they are not seen as a replacement for regular manual tyre safety checks.
The driver is always responsible for the condition of the tyres on their vehicle and while TPMS makes life easier regular visual checks are essential to stay tyre safe.
Pressures should be tested at least once a month or before any long journey. They should be checked when they are cold or have been driven on for less than two miles, using an accurate and reliable pressure gauge.
Denna Bowman, Head Office