We have talked about tyres before, but never dedicated an entire article to them and why it is important to get them right.
So we are changing that this month and focusing entirely on tyres, and specifically why getting the tyre pressure right is so important. For everything you ever wanted to know about tyre pressure – and more – read on… (We promise, you’ll be surprised by some of these.)
First things, first. Let’s get the basics right by making sure your tyres have the right, and legal, tread on them. The legal requirement is that tyres must have a tread depth of 1.6mm across three-quarters of the tyre. The recommended depth at which you should change your tyres is 3mm. To check whether you comply with the law, get yourself a 20p piece and insert it into the tyre’s tread grooves. If you can see the outer band then it’s time to replace your tyres. The RAC has some nice graphics on this to help you get it right.
Putting on the pressure
Tyre pressure is the next most critical thing after tread. To find the right tyre pressure for your vehicle check the manufacturer’s manual. In many cars, the details can also be found on the inside of the fuel tank cap or the driver’s door. Ideally, you should check your tyre pressure once a month, as well as before any long journeys. The optimum time to check them is when the tyres are cold, but when you next fill up at the petrol station will do fine as well. Check them even if you have a newer car with an installed tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS).
Why is it important?
Tyre pressure is a critical part of vehicle safety. Why? Under-inflated tyres can affect your vehicle handling and your ability to brake quickly. They are also more likely to get a puncture as any sharp objects on the road, such as glass or nails, have less chance of bouncing off them and more chance of sinking into them instead.
On the flip side, over-inflated tyres will have greater stress placed on them, making them more likely to burst and lead to a high-speed blow-out – not something you ever want to experience.
Temperature and loading will affect how tyres are worn. Tyres which are not inflated correctly are more likely to wear unevenly which means you would have to replace them more frequently, becoming expensive. Incorrectly inflated tyres will also lead to an increased fuel consumption as they are not operating at optimum levels, putting more pressure on your vehicle to compensate.
Don’t forget the spare
Every time you check your tyre tread or pressure remember to check the spare too. The last thing you want is to find that you need it and it’s either in bad shape or incorrectly inflated in relation to the other tyres as it becomes an even greater safety issue for your vehicle.