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How to take care of your tyres

How to take care of your tyres

Well-maintained tyres are a crucial component of your car and vital for road safety.  
Even if they pass the annual MOT, tyres still need regular checks to ensure they are roadworthy.  
Here’s our guide to how to take care of your tyres and why this can have an impact on your car insurance.  

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
posted 28 JANUARY 2020

Regularly check tyre pressure

Under or over-inflated tyres can seriously affect your car’s steering, handling and braking distance.    

The wrong tyre pressure will also result in higher fuel consumption and quicker wear and tear.  

  • It’s essential that your tyre pressures are correct. Always check the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended level. This can be found in the vehicle handbook
  • Tyre pressures should be checked at least once a month, before a long journey or if you’re transporting a heavier than usual load.  
  • You can check the pressures at your nearest petrol station or with a pressure gauge at home.
  • Tyres should be cold when checked to get an accurate reading.  

Check the tread depth

The tread depth of your tyres can seriously compromise your vehicle’s traction and grip, especially in poor weather conditions.  
Under UK law, tyres with a tread depth of at least 1.6mm are a legal requirement. Any less, and your car will fail its MOT.  
Driving with bald tyres is not only dangerous; it’s an offence. If you’re stopped by the police, an illegal tyre could result in a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points on your licence. 

This could also mean an increase in your car insurance premiums. 

Tread carefully – the 20 pence check 

A simple way to check your tyre tread depth, is to use a 20p coin.  

  • Insert the coin into the main grooves in several places around the entire tyre.  
  • The outer band of a 20p coin is 1.6mm. When you insert it into the grooves, this outer rim of the coin should not be visible.  
  • If you can see part of the coin rim, your tyres may need replacing. Get them checked out by a qualified tyre specialist.   

Look for any damage

When checking tyre pressure and tread depth, give your tyres an all-over visual inspection.  
Look out for any cuts, bulges, embedded objects or unusual signs of wear and tear.  
If you notice any problems, get your tyres checked out by a specialist as soon as possible.  

Be aware of your driving habits

The way you drive can also have an impact on the condition and longevity of your tyres. Good driving habits can make them last longer, so: 

  • avoid excessive braking and speeding 
  • try to avoid uneven road surfaces and potholes 
  • slow down for speed bumps 
  • if you have to mount the kerb, do it slowly at an angle and try not to scrape the side of the pavement.

Be extra careful in the wet

It’s important to make sure your tyres are in good condition, whatever the weather. But worn tyres can present particular hazards when driving in the wet and rain.
If water builds up between your tyre and the road, it can lead to ‘hydroplaning’ or ‘aquaplaning’, which can make it impossible to brake and steer. One of the ways to avoid this is to make sure your tyres are properly inflated and in good shape before you set out. 

Don’t let your tyres get too old

Tyres don’t last forever, and while there’s no strict rule about it, tyres over five or six years old may well need replacing. That’s because the rubber gradually wears out – you may notice cracks in it when you inspect your tyres. Tyres that aren’t used much actually age more quickly. That’s because the chemicals added to tyres to slow down wear and tear are only released when they’re in use. 

How do you know how old your tyres are?

Look at the tyre sidewall. You’ll see the letters DOT then a set of numbers. The first two numbers are the week the tyres were manufactured, and the second two are the year. So 4319 would be the 43rd week of 2019. 
If you can only see three digits, then your tyres were made before 2000 – so it’s time to get some new ones. 

Watch out for wheel alignment

Misaligned wheels can cause uneven wear on tyres as more weight will be placed on parts of them. If you notice uneven wear on your tyres, or your steering wheel starts to vibrate uncomfortably, it might be time to take your car into your local garage to have the tyres and wheels checked. 

Tyre care and car insurance

If you want to keep the costs of your car insurance down, it’s essential that your vehicle is regularly maintained and kept in good condition.  
This includes taking care of your tyres. If you’re involved in an accident while driving with unsafe tyres, your insurance policy will most likely be invalidated.  

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