Keeping your cars tyres in good condition is essential if you want to ensure that it's handling and braking ability is to stay in tip-top condition. Turning a 'blind eye' to issues such as tread depth not only reduces your cars ability to handle safely in various weather conditions, but you could end up with a fine of up to £2500 and 3 penalty points PER TYRE if you are caught in a random police check.
Checking tyre wear
Your tyres tread depth will gradually decrease from the moment you start driving on them. How quickly this happens will depend on your yearly mileage, your driving style and other factors such as tyre pressure or poorly adjusted tracking or suspension.
In the UK it is illegal to drive on tyres that have a tread depth of less than 1.6mm across 75 percent of the tread width and around the entire circumference of the tyre. In addition to this you must NOT have radial tyres on the front wheels and cross ply tyres on the rear wheels, it is also illegal to have a cross ply tyre on one side with a radial on the other.
Worn tyres will affect the handling of your car in both dry and wet weather conditions.
Tyres are designed displace water away from the road surface beneath them in order to maintain contact with the road. This helps the tyre grip despite the surface water and means you are less likely to skid in wet conditions. If your tyres are worn it's ability to displace the water will be impaired, and so your chances of skidding or aquaplaning across large patches of water will be increased in large patches of water.
In dry conditions, the tyre tread needs to have a certain depth in order to grip the road effectively. The height of the tread allows the rubber sections to move fractionally whenever it is pushed in any particular direction. This movement absorbs the vehicles tendency to want to move sideways on a bend for example, thus providing 'grip'.
If you notice uneven wear on your tyres, you should get your car checked out at a garage as the suspension or tracking may need adjusting.
Use the correct tyre pressure
Always check your tyre pressures at least once a month to ensure they are correct. Tyre pressures are often written on the inside of the fuel filler hatch for easy reference.
Under inflated tyres will reduce your grip in all weather conditions, damage the tyres, and reduce your fuel efficiency! They will also cause your tyres to wear unevenly and reduce their legal life span.
Under normal conditions, a tyre will always lose small amounts of air even when they are in good condition. However if you notice that air is being lost at a much higher rate, this could be an indication of a small puncture or perhaps a faulty valve, and should be investigated by a garage or tyre centre with a simple pressure check.
Note that the recommended tyre pressure is NOT written on the wall of the tyre - this is actually the MAXIMUM tyre pressure!
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