By Denna Bowman
More than a third of drivers in the UK are needlessly increasing their fuel bills and taking extra safety risks by failing to keep their tyres properly inflated, according to a new study.
And TyreSafe, the UK’s leading tyres safety organisation, estimates that £0.7 billion of a fuel is being wasted each year as a result of under-inflation.
The organisation announced the results of its study in the month that average petrol prices reached a new all time high of 119.9p a litre.
It claims that by keeping tyres inflated to their correct pressure motorists benefit from lower fuel bills, longer tyre life, increased safety and reduced CO2 emissions.
Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe, said: “The recent rises in petrol prices are hitting drivers hard, yet many are failing to make one very simple check and adjustment that could save them hundreds of pounds over the year.
“By taking just a few minutes once a month to ensure that their tyres are inflated to the recommended levels, many drivers will notice a reduction in their fuel bills, helping to make their motoring safer and more affordable again.”
In an extensive survey carried out by one TyreSafe member last year, more than 4,500 cars had their tyre pressures checked during a three-month period. An alarming 36 percent were found to be driving with tyres considered to be dangerous as they were under-inflated by more than 8psi.
When tyres run under-inflated their rolling resistance, or the force needed to make them turn, increases. This means that the engine has to work harder and more fuel is used, making the car less economical.
Calculations from another TyreSafe member show that when tyres are under-inflated by just 20 percent or around 6psi, 3 percent more fuel is used.
In addition to the extra running costs caused by under-inflation, vehicle safety is also significantly compromised. Tyres run in this state are much more likely to suffer from a blowout, typically on motorways at high speeds, as excessive heat builds up within the tyre. Handling and grip are also affected, potentially causing irregular or unpredictable vehicle behaviour.
How to check your tyre pressures correctly:
1. Check your tyre pressures at least once a month.
2. Tyre pressures should be checked against the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended level which can be found in the vehicle handbook and on a plate which is often located inside the fuel filler cap or on the driver’s door sill.
3. Check the pressure when tyres are cold (i.e. when you have travelled less than two miles).
4. If you are carrying a full load of passengers or luggage or will be towing a trailer or caravan, pressures should be increased in line with the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.
5. Ensure a reliable and accurate gauge is used.
6. Check the pressure in all four tyres not forgetting the spare as well.
7. When checking pressures, give the rest of the tyre a visual inspection. Remove any stone or other objects embedded in the tread. Look out for any bulges, lumps or cuts.