Did you know that you can check your tyre tread depth using just a 20p piece!? Read on to find out how….
The 3 most important safety features of your car are your brakes, tyres and seatbelts. For this article, we’re going to concentrate on your tyres. We recommend that you check the condition of your tyres regularly – at least once a fortnight if you can.
Why should you check your tyres?
For a start, your insurance is invalid when driving on illegal tyres. Lightfoot may significantly reduce the chance of you being involved in an accident, but if you are involved in one (whether it’s your fault or not) then the police, repair centre and your insurer will all check the condition of your tyres – and if they find the condition of your tyres to be illegal then you could find yourself forking out a lot of money on repairs and fines.
Worn tyres significantly reduce both the performance and safety of your car – insufficient tread depths vastly reduce your car’s ability to stop quickly and safely, affect your steering and your acceleration. It’s easy to see that putting aside just a few minutes now and again to check your tyres can keep you and your family safe.
What Should I Check?
Below is a handy five-point checklist that we strongly recommend you follow to help you save money, stay safe and help the environment. Make sure you also check and examine the overall condition and tread depth on your spare tyre too if your car has one (although some modern cars don’t):
Tyre Tread Depth
The current legal limit for tyres on UK roads is a tread depth of at least 1.6mm (across 75% of the tyre). However, the deeper the tread that’s remaining on your tyres, the more grip you will have on the road surface. Most workshops/garages will advise that you replace your tyres when the tread is less than 3mm.
It’s not only unsafe to ignore the minimum tyre tread depth, it’s against the law. For each illegal tyre, you could face a fine of up to £2,500 and 3 penalty points added to your driving license. Yes, that’s 3 points per tyre!
There’s a simple test you can use to test the tread depth of your tyres and the best part is that all you need is a 20 pence piece!
To test, take the 20p and place it in-between the main grooves of the tyre. If you can see the outer band of the coin, the tyre may have insufficient tread depth and be illegal. This means you should get your tyres checked over by a qualified mechanic or tyre specialist as soon as possible.
Check the overall condition of your tyres, including inner and outer sidewalls for damage and wear.
When a tyre is under-inflated, it may not necessarily look “flat”. As mentioned at the start of the article, checking tyre pressures at least once a fortnight is recommended. If you are unsure of what the correct pressures are for your vehicle (front and rear pressures often differ), you can usually find the required pressures on a label either inside your fuel filler flap, on the pillar near your seatbelt when you open your driver’s door, and/or in the vehicle user manual.
- Always remember that tyre pressures should only be checked and adjusted when your tyres are cold. A good “rule of thumb” is to leave them for at least an hour after driving so that they can cool down. This is because tyre pressures increase when the tyre is warm or hot.
- If you drive your car on under or over-inflated tyres, then your vehicle’s handling will be seriously affected, which is unsafe. In some cases, the vehicle may even become seriously unstable and/or uncontrollable.
- Incorrectly inflated tyres increase tyre wear (significantly shortening its lifespan and increasing the chances of the tyre failing whilst driving) and can also significantly increase your fuel consumption, costing you a lot of money!
Check signs of irregular wear across the surface from the outside of the wheel (nearest your wheel arch) to the inside (nearest your suspension). If your tyre is unevenly worn across the surface that’s in contact with the road, then this could be a sign of over/under inflation. However, if it’s only worn on one edge then it could be a sign of poor wheel alignment. If this is the case, you need to have a professional garage check your wheel alignment for you.
Smooth acceleration, braking and cornering can save you a lot of fuel. We often see Lightfoot drivers saving in excess of 20% on their fuel bills. However, something often overlooked is that when you drive more smoothly (take it easy on the throttle, gentle braking, and stay in the right gear, etc) then you’ll not only reduce your fuel bill but you’ll also save wear and tear on brakes and tyres!