Whether you’re driving to the airport to head off on holiday or planning on setting out to visit family and friends, chances are your car is going to be weighed down with more luggage, passengers and Christmas presents than usual over the next few days.
Nobody ‘plans’ to have a breakdown and few think it likely to happy to them, but thousands of motorists are caught out each year and have to put the festivities on hold while they wait for help from recovery services. One of the most common causes for these unwanted breaks in the journey is tyre-related issues.
In twelve days over last year’s Christmas and New Year holidays, Highways England attended nearly 700 tyre-related incidents on the motorway network alone, with over 100 on Christmas and New Year’s Eves, according to Highways England data from 22/12/2014 and 02/01/2015.
TyreSafe is reminding Britain’s motorists that this type of misery could often be avoided by carrying out some quick and easy checks before setting off.
Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman, pointed out: “The holiday season should be spent enjoying the company of friends and family, not sat by the roadside waiting for help. Of course, the unexpected happens but a lot of tyre-related breakdowns are avoidable if the driver carries out a few simple checks before heading out on the roads.”
Tyres need higher air pressures when the vehicle is fully loaded with the whole family and their belongings. If they’re left at the normal pressures, the car’s braking and handling will be less effective, it will use more fuel and make the tyres more vulnerable to damage, such as punctures.
In the vast majority of cases, the correct tyre pressures can be found in the door sill or filler cap, and don’t be surprised if a substantial increase is advised. To check your own pressures, use an accurate gauge when the tyre is cold.
While adjusting air pressure, check the general condition of the tyres and check for signs of damage, such as cuts and bulges or objects embedded in the rubber, these could lead to a blow out or slow puncture and need to be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
It is also critical to ensure you have adequate tread depth in order to cope with cold and wet conditions, which can be easily checked using a 20p coin. The border of a 20p can be used as guide to assess how close tread depth is to the minimum legal limit – 1.6mm. When the coin is placed in the tyres grooves at numerous points the border should always be hidden, if you can see it, you may well be close to the legal limit and it is likely it will need to be replaced.
Denna Bowman, Head Office