Motorists are being urged to check all the tyres on their vehicles before heading out on the roads this Easter to maximise their chances of arriving safely and on time.
Tyresafe, the UK’s leading tyre safety group, is highlighting the importance of correct tyre maintenance and the dangers of defective and worn tyres and is also reminding vehicle owners that those checks should include their spare wheel.
That essential inspection should ensure all tyres are at the recommended pressure for the load the vehicle will carry – and that will typically be different for a car when carrying a full load than it would when carrying just two occupants. Looking for bulges or damage and making sure the tread depth is at least above the legal limit of 1.6mm are also crucial.
When it comes to the spare wheel specifically – first of all check to see if your car has one. A recent survey of new cars by Honest John revealed only 8% of new cars are sold with a full-size spare wheel, with ‘space-savers’, repair kits and run-flat tyres being the most common alternatives. However, many owners are unaware their car is equipped with one of these options, and will be unsure of what to do should they suffer a puncture or blowout.
The absence of a spare wheel has led to a dramatic rise in callouts to the breakdown recovery services, who are likely to be extremely busy over the Easter holiday. The RAC has reported the number of callouts annually to assist drivers with a puncture but no spare wheel rose from 29,000 in 2010 to 118,000 in 2014 and that number is forecast to rise again this year to 144,000.
Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe, commented: “As families across the country hit the roads over the Easter period, it’s perhaps no surprise that the number of breakdowns soar. However, many of these incidents are avoidable if people take the time to check their tyres and ensure everything is in working order. These checks are quick and simple to conduct, but essential as they could be the difference between a pleasurable Easter break and one spent by the roadside or worse.”
To help drivers remember the essentials, TyreSafe has compiled the essential Easter tyre checklist:
Pressure: Is the vehicle’s tyre pressure at the right level for the load? Check with your car’s owners’ manual or even the sticker in the fuel flap may have this. If you don’t: You will use more fuel than necessary, increase wear and the risk of losing control of the vehicle.
Tread depth: The law requires a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tread and around the entire circumference of the tyre. A simple way to check is using TyreSafe’s 20p test. Insert the 20p coin into the main tyre grooves at several places around the circumference of the tyre and across its width. If the outer band of the 20p coin is visible whenever you check the tread, your tread depth may be illegal. If you don’t: You can face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre, and reduce the amount of control you will have when braking and cornering.
Condition: Drivers are advised to inspect the tyre for signs of irregular wear or damage such as cuts, lumps or bulges. If you don’t: You risk driving with a defective tyre which can lead to a blowout.
Spare wheel: Do you have a spare wheel? If not, do you know how you will deal with a puncture or blowout? Unless you plan on using the breakdown services, take the time to read your manual to learn how to properly use tyre sealants, compressor/inflation kits, or run flat tyres.
If you do have a full-sized spare or a space saver tyre, you should check it’s properly inflated; its tread depth is above the legal limit; and it’s in good working condition (remember speed restrictions will apply to space savers). Don’t forget to be sure you have a functioning jack and tyre brace. If you don’t: You could easily waste time by the roadside waiting for assistance you could have avoided if you’d checked before you left.
Denna Bowman, Head Office