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How to ensure your car tyres are safe, legal, and efficient

by James Anderson | Jan 30, 2017
Car Tyres

According to the road safety charity Brake, illegal, defective, or under-inflated tyres are the most common vehicle defect contributing to fatal crashes. This is rather unsurprising, though, when you consider the fact that a survey carried out by the charity found that seven in 10 UK drivers don’t know the legal minimum tyre tread depth for their vehicle. Yet, unsuitable tyres are one of the easiest problems to detect and fix — if you know what you’re doing, that is.

So, if you’re unsure of how to keep your tyres in good condition, and struggle to work out when they need to be changed, here are our tips for ensuring that your car’s tyres are safe, legal, and efficient at all times.

Get your tyres rotated

The front tyres of your car will wear a lot more quickly than those at the back. So, switching your tyres on a regular basis can help them to wear more evenly and it will become easier to get the most out of their tread life. Tyre manufacturer Goodyear recommends that you rotate your tyres every 6,000 miles, although certain factors — such as how fast you typically drive and how long your average journey is — will affect how often this needs to be done.

Monitor their tread

Check the tread depth of your tyres is also incredibly important, as this will determine how well they grip the road. If your tyres’ tread depth is inadequate, you are at a higher risk of being involved in an accident, could lose your licence, and face a fine of £10,000.

Across the UK and Europe, the legal minimum tyre tread depth is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters. To test this, Tyre Safe recommends using the 20p test. To do so, simply place a 20p piece into the main tread grooves of your tyres. If the outer band of it is completely obscured, then you’re safely above the legal limit. If not, it’s incredibly important that you get your tyres changed as soon as possible.

Ensure they have optimum pressure

Maintaining the correct tyre pressure will help to keep you safe, help your car to run more efficiently, and extend the life of your tyres. The optimum pressure for your tyres will be specified by their manufacturer, but it’s your responsibility to ensure that this is checked regularly. It is recommended that this is done every two weeks.

Make sure your wheels are aligned

Ensuring that your car’s wheels are aligned can help your tyres to last longer, as well as improve the handling of your vehicle. According to Your Mechanic, there are a number of signs that your wheels might need realigning — for example, your tyres might be suffering from uneven tread wear, or your steering wheel could be off-centre when driving straight. If this is the case, take your car to a garage as soon as possible to ask about getting your wheels realigned.

Change them when necessary

And, finally, sometimes tyres are simply past their best and need to be replaced. This is especially the case if their tread depth is inadequate or they’ve been damaged in a way that cannot be remedied in a safe way.

Different vehicles require different kinds of wheels. Therefore, you need to find out which ones will work best for you. This information can often be found in your driver’s manual or on the side of your current tyres. However, Lookers recommends that you also consider factors such as whether you spend more time driving in cities or on motorways, as this could also affect which tyres are most appropriate for your car and lifestyle.

Keeping your tyres in good condition and replacing them when necessary could help you to avoid harm, fines, and the loss of your licence. It might seem like a lot of work, but soon it’ll become routine. Plus, the pros certainly outweigh the cons — what more motivation do you need?