Not the most exciting of subjects, but I wanted to set down some thoughts about tyres. I would say that at least once a week we see tyres at the garage which are worn to a potentially lethal degree. Often this wear is not visible on the outside edge of the tyre. It is quite common with the state of today’s roads for the bushes on the front lower suspension arms on a car to wear, allowing the wheels to tow outwards (think of a penguin trying to ski). This erodes the inside shoulder of the tyre much as dragging an eraser over a rough surface might do. We see quite a few cars where the tyre appears fine from the kerbside, but the canvas (and sometimes even the steel cords which reinforce the tyre) are exposed on the inside edge. About once a month we have a customer who has suffered a blow-out due to premature tyre wear. If that happens at high speed on the motorway, or even close to the pavement in a residential area, the consequences do not bear thinking about.
In terms of the law, tyres have tread markers set at the legal minimum depth of 1.6 mm. That depth needs to be consistent around the central 3/4s of the tyre. Bear in mind that once you are on the markers you are likely to be the wrong side of the law. This can have consequences for your insurance in the event of an accident, and it is one of the first things that the police will check at the scene.
Research also shows that tyres with a 3mm tread depth perform 25% better in terms of grip than those on the legal limit. Another problem we have in this area is flints from the road and the tank tracks piercing the face and sidewalls of tyres. The law states that if a cut is deep enough to expose the cords of the tyre, the tyre is not roadworthy.
It is good practice to have a glance at your tyres daily, or at least weekly. Pressures should ideally be checked once a month and we are happy to do this free of charge at the garage. With modern tyre technology it is less easy to spot an underinflated tyre, and some modern vehicles can need as much as 50 psi (around 30 psi being more usual). When you park it is worth turning the steering out from time to time on alternate sides so that you can view the whole tyre.
Finally, whilst many of our customers prefer us to fit budget tyres, which are a perfectly acceptable choice, it is our experience that a mid range brand will significantly outlast a budget tyre. On average the cost is about £20 + Vat more a tyre. That is something to bear in mind depending on your use of the vehicle and how long you intend to keep it.
Happy and safe motoring to all.
The Motor Garage Ltd