As millions of motorists get their summer holiday on the road this weekend, amidst widespread predictions of traffic chaos, TyreSafe is reminding all drivers to check their tyres before they leave home.
Tyre-related incidents are one of the most common causes of breakdowns on Britain’s roads, leading to extensive delays and increasing the chances of incidents, yet many of these could be avoided if owners ensured they were ready for the trip ahead. This is particularly important for owners of vehicles which have been in storage for an extended period of time, such as motorhomes classic cars and caravans. Many of which are being driven or towed for the first time this year.
Despite this, as many as one-in-five drivers have never checked their tyres. This rises to one-in-three among drivers under 25 years-of-age*.
Essential holiday tyre checks
Air pressure – under- or over-inflated tyres will affect car handling and grip; properly inflated tyres reduce running costs and increase tyre life. Correct pressures can be found in the owner’s manual, fuel filler cap or door shut. There are likely to be at least two recommended pressures – one for a light load and the other when fully laden, such as when travelling with family and all their luggage. Adjust pressures within two miles of home, not after travelling many miles.
Tread depth – drivers with insufficient tread depth face longer stopping distances, reduced grip and an increased risk of aquaplaning on wet roads. The minimum legal tread depth of all car, van (below 3.5 tonnes gross), trailer, caravan and motorhome tyres is 1.6mm. A 20-pence piece can be used as a guide to how close the tread is to the legal limit. Place the coin edge in the main tread of the tyre and look to see if the border is visible. If it is, you should have it checked by a professional as it may be illegal and unsafe to use.
Condition – all tyres should be free from any cuts, lumps, bulges or cracking. If there is any doubt of a tyre’s roadworthiness, have it checked by a professional
Spare wheel/tyre – spare tyres must be given the same checks in case there is a need to use them. If you don’t have a spare, drivers should be familiar with the how to use the spacesaver or emergency repair kit supplied with their vehicle
These checks should also be carried out by those using a vehicle, trailer or caravan for the first time after being in storage for a prolonged period and they should also be aware of other potential issues. Tyres which have been left exposed to ultraviolet light (UV) will deteriorate more rapidly, so particular attention needs to be paid to the signs of cracking or glazing on the sidewall of a tyre. Tyres also lose pressure over time, so these must be checked as they are likely to be below recommended settings.
Stuart Jackson, Chairman of TyreSafe, said: “The vast majority of us have experienced being stuck in a holiday traffic jam at one time or another but in our frustration, it’s easy to forget the experience the driver, and their passengers, causing that delay might have been through. Whether the result is simply delayed holiday plans or something far more serious the thought that carrying out checks before they had left home might have avoided the situation only makes it worse. Tyre-related incidents are one of the most common on Britain’s roads and it’s the driver’s responsibility to check they’re roadworthy before they set off.
“TyreSafe urges all motorists this summer holiday to minimise the risks to themselves, their families and other road users by checking their tyres before they drive away for their getaway.”
Further details on tyre safety can be found at tyresafe.org where there is a pressure checker for cars and a pressure calculator for caravans. An animation guiding owners of vehicles being taken out of storage is also available in the animation library.
*TyreSafe surveys, 2014