By Denna Bowman
Drivers are being urged to make sure their tyres are in good condition for the winter, rather than wait
until surface water, frost or snow turns the road under their wheels into a skid pan.
The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) reminds vehicle owners that because their tyres only have the area of the sole of a shoe in touch with the road at any one time, it’s a safety ‘no-brainer’ to keep them in top condition.
It also warns that extra care is needed at this time of the year when sudden heavy showers can profoundly affect tyre performance.
More roads will also be worn out due to cut-backs on resurfacing, and this combination with worn out tyres is potentially lethal.
Peter Rodger, IAM Chief Examiner, said: “Under-inflation causes excessive tyre-wear, with every ten per cent under the recommended optimum decreasing tyre life by ten percent.
“Vehicles of drivers found to be at fault in high-speed accidents were found to be six times more likely to have worn tyres than those of the other drivers involved. Keeping your tyres maintained is an important part of car-care, not only for safety but also for fuel-economy; under-inflated tyres will increase fuel consumption.”
Mr Rodger gives some simple tips on checking the condition of your tyres:
Check the general state of the tyre for cuts and bumps on the tyre wall and uneven wear
Check that your tyres are correctly inflated (ideally when they’re cold) –you can find the recommended pressure listed in the car’s handbook, or on the manufacturers plate, fitted in many cars
The legal minimum for tyre tread in the UK is 1.6mm, but for optimum safety you are advised to start looking for replacements if the depth is below 3mm. Tyres with less than 1mm of tread depth have one third the braking friction of one at the bare legal min of 1.6mm, and below 3mm the tyres skid resistance begins to decline rapidly
Just because tyres are legal, they still may not be at an optimum for braking safely in all conditions. When there is a 2mm film of water on the road, even 2mm of tread may give no better stopping friction than a bald tyre. Have a quick look over your car once a week to notice any changes, and get your tyres checked by an expert if you are unsure.