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Are your tyres safe?

Kwik Fit | Tuesday 12th June 2018 5:10pm

Woman checking car tyres

It is important to be aware of how to look after your tyres to keep you safe on the roads.Continue reading to find out more about some of our top tyre safety tips. These tips should help ensure that your tyres are safe and also enable you to make the best choice when purchasing new tyres.

The importance of tyre tread depths

115 years ago, premium tyre manufacturer, Continental, developed tyre treads. These treads clear water from the surface of the road which is important for vehicle safety. Removing more water allows your tyres to grip the road better enabling you to stay in control of your car.

Continental tyre tread close up

What tread depth should you be aiming for?

If your tyres have more tread depth, water is cleared more efficiently. New premium tyres such as Continental’s ContiPremiumContact™ 5, they have 8mm of tread depth. Combined with being manufactured from the highest quality compounds, these tyres provide drivers with optimal grip, even in wet weather conditions.

Through regular use, tyre tread depth naturally reduces. In turn, this reduces the level of grip on the tyres. Cheap tyres tend to lose tread depth more quickly as they are usually made from lower quality materials compared with premium tyres. Less grip increases the chances of an accident as stopping distances are longer. It also makes your vehicle more difficult to control if you need to swerve suddenly.

In the UK, the legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm. However, we recommend changing your tyres before they reach this level as tyres with a tread depth of under 3mm have significantly worse grip than tyres with above this amount. At 3 mm, tyre tread wears rapidly increases, impacting on stopping distances and vehicle safety.

Tread depth / tyre wear comparison

  • 8 mm: Tyre is 0% worn. Excellent
  • 7 mm: Approximately 15% worn. Very good.

  • 6 mm: About 30% worn. Good.

  • 5 mm: Around 45-50% worn. Okay.

  • 4 mm: Tyre is approximately 65% worn. Acceptable.

  • 3 mm: Tyre is nearly 80% worn. Replace as soon as possible.

  • 2 mm: Tyre is 95% worn. This is almost at the minimum legal limit.

  • 1.6 mm: The tyre is now at its minimum legal limit. Replace now!

  •  Under 1.6 mm: You are driving illegally!

To help avoid low tyre tread depths, both Kwik Fit and Continental recommend that you check your tyre treads as regularly as possible. If you don’t have a tread gauge, you can always try the quick and easy 20p test.

Make sure your tyre pressures are correct

Tyre pressures are crucial for driver safety. Making sure that your tyres are not under or over inflated is important to make sure that your tyres are performing at their best. If your tyres are inflated to the correct level, you will have the best possible grip on the road.

The problem with under inflated tyres

Under inflated tyres are problematic as they make contact with the road too much. This can lead to a tyre that is too flat at the base. This means that your tyre treads will erode at a quicker rate causing a reduction in grip. Uneven tyre wear can have a negative impact on vehicle handling.

These tyres are also more vulnerable to damage. As a result of the fact that these tyres are softer than they should be, objects like nails and glass are more likely to get stuck in the tyre increasing your chances of a puncture.

The problem with over inflated tyres

Over inflated tyres can be just as dangerous as under inflated tyres. These tyres are more likely suffer from tyre blowout. This is because tyres are too rigid to perform effectively. Potholes or other debris on the road are more likely to cause tyre blowout if tyres are not inflated to the correct pressure. 

Tyres that are over inflated are especially vulnerable to sudden impacts, such as those experienced when contact is made with potholes, or debris on the road which can cause tyre blowout. They also suffer from excessive wear too especially at the centre of the tyre. This causes tyre tread to be lost more quickly.

How to get your tyre pressures right

To find out what your ideal tyre pressures should be, check your vehicle’s fuel cap or inside the driver door. Tyre pressure readings are more accurate when your tyres are cold. As a result of this, it is a good idea to check your tyres before you set off on a long journey.

You can check your tyre pressures using a tyre pressure gauge. To do this, remove the tyre’s valve dust cover and attach the air hose. The hose automatically measures the tyre pressure for you. If you’re under or over inflated, expel or top up air until the tyres are at the correct pressure.

Regularly checking your pressures is particularly important if you are planning to add a large amount of additional weight to your vehicle. This puts even greater stress on your tyres so it is even more important that the pressure is correct.

Get in the habit of checking for tyre damage

It is important to regularly check your tyres for damage. Checking the tread depth and pressure is crucial but there are other visual inspections that you should carry out to ensure that your tyres are safe.

Your tyre sidewall can be damaged by cuts, scrapes and bulges. In addition, there is the issues of sharp objects like glass or nails which can cause punctures. These factors can put you at a greater risk of tyre blowout, especially at high speed. Therefore, it is a good idea to inspect your tyres for these issues regularly.You can learn more about tyre damage here.


Some tyres are better than others

Premium tyre manufacturers, like Continental are constantly investing in research and development to ensure that their tyres are as safe as possible. As a result of this, 1 in 3 new cars are fitted with Continental Original Equipment tyres. These tyres are designed specifically for a certain car model to ensure peak performance.

Talk to Kwik Fit for tyre safety advice

If you want to find out more about which tyres you should fit to your car, come down to your local Kwik Fit centre for advice on the best tyres for your vehicle. 



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