Tyres are a vital part of your car. Four rubber contacts are all that separates you from certain death. Yet, when it’s time to check your tyres it’s easy to forget – or not know what to look for. If you don’t already, start caring for your tyres. They’re key to vehicle safety; it could save your life. Here’s how to make a thorough but quick tyre check.
The 20p Test
The minimum tyre tread level is 1.6mm in the UK. Tyre manufacturers give a handy indication bar when you reach these minimum, however, if you regularly drive without checking, you could wear the markings away while you roll around on bald tyres. That which is shiny does not grip.
So how do you know your tread level? Simply take a 20p out of your piggy bank and stick it into the tread on your tyres. See the outer band that is separated from the edge of the coin? Your tread should at least measure up to this line.
Both Sides of the Story
Misalignment of the wheels causes uneven wear on the tyres. It’s a common problem. When this issue is severe you will actually feel the car pulling to one side, but it’s harder to notice when there is only a small discrepancy between the wheels.
To find out if your car wheels are misaligned, take a photo of the tread of one tyre at the front and compare the wear pattern with the tyre on the other side. If you have any concerns, get your garages to swap them.
Top tip: it’s worth getting your tyres rotated when the car goes into the garage periodically, so the wear is as even as possible. Rotation isn’t always available though as it depends on the model of car.
Kerb Your Car Control
The UK’s roads are notoriously potholed. Hitting these divvets at higher speeds does far more damage to tyre walls. The supported, reinforced rubber becomes unsupportive, and can lead to cracks or splits.
Since you don’t want a tyre blow out on the motorway, regularly check your tyres’ walls and drive as gently as possible–particularly where there are poor road surfaces. A few extra minutes on your journey is a cheaper alternative to forking out for a new tyre.
Check Your Tyres’ Pressure
Tyre pressure is so important, carmakers have been integrating digital tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) into newer cars. These sensors keep an eye on your tyre pressure and let you know with a warning light or message when you need to top up the air in your tyres.
Putting air in the tyres is easy. Pull up to your local fuel forecourt and use their air pump. It’s normally about 50p and takes about one minute per tyre. It helps to have gloves, as the tyre cap can be a bit mucky. Set the tyre pressure you want to fill to.
Note, tyre pressures are measured in Bar or PSI. Your owner’s manual should tell you what tyre pressure reading should be (usually between 27-35PSI) for regular loads. Too high and the tyres burst, too low and you’ll burn through fuel, as the car fights to keep them rolling.
One Woman Owner Says
In the worst-case scenarios – such as getting a flat or puncture, many cars these days have run-flat tyres that will go enough miles to get you to the nearest tyre centre or glue kits in the back of the car that forms a temporary seal over the fissure allowing you a similar window to get a fix in place. If you don’t like the idea of changing a tyre yourself, make sure you have breakdown service coverage.