Kwik Fit | Wednesday 10th October 2018 9:38am
Your car tyres are essential when it comes to keeping you safe on the roads. So, it pays to make sure they donít get too tired and worn. But exactly how old is too old when it comes to these vital pieces of kit?
Most car tyres start off with 8mm of tread, and when they are fitted to the front axle, this should last for approximately 20,000 miles. As you clock up the miles in your car, your tyre tread gradually wears down until eventually - if you leave it too long - it becomes unsafe and potentially even illegal. Tyres can deteriorate in other ways too. For example, their side walls can start to crack over time, increasing the risk of tyre failure.
Unfortunately, you canít tell if your tyres are roadworthy simply by knowing their age or how many miles theyíve travelled. A whole range of factors impacts on their longevity. If you want to know how long you can expect your tyres to last - and be able to pick up on problems that could mean they need to be replaced - itís useful to ask yourself the following questions.
What sort of tyres do you have?
Not all tyres are created equal. These motoring must-haves are designed to meet a lot of different - and in some cases conflicting - needs. For example, models that are made from harder compounds are designed for a longer life. However, these tyres tend to be noisier. In contrast, models made from softer compounds donít tend to last as long but they can give a quieter, smoother ride.
The type of tyres you have will therefore impact on how long you can expect them to last. Itís worth noting that original (first fit) tyres often last longer than replacements.
Do you drive aggressively?
The way you drive will also have an impact. For example, if you tend to corner and brake aggressively, you can expect to wear your tyres out more quickly. Frequently driving at high speeds, which causes your tyres to become hotter, will also increase the rate of wear.
In addition, if you often carry heavy loads in your vehicle, your tyres will deteriorate sooner.
Do you take steps to look after your tyres?
There are things you can do to care for your tyres that will make them last longer. One of these is to ensure that they are always correctly inflated. If they are under-inflated, more of the rubber will come into contact with the road when you drive, causing the temperature to rise and resulting in greater wear. Also, the rubber will flex more, causing greater damage to the side walls. On the other hand, if your tyres are over-inflated, too little rubber will come into contact with the road and youíll find that the central section wears down more quickly.
Pay attention to wheel alignment and your suspension system as well. Tyres wear more unevenly and quickly if there is a problem with the alignment of your wheels, or if components of your suspension system (such as your shock absorbers) arenít functioning properly.
Why is tread so important?
Tyre tread isnít something you should think about only when your next MOT is due. The fact is, by providing your car with grip on the roads, the grooves in your tyres play a crucial role in preventing accidents. Figures cited by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents show that in 2016, 120 people were seriously injured and eight people were killed on UK roads in accidents where illegal or defective tyres were deemed to be a contributory factor.
Tread is designed to provide grip and, in wet conditions, pump water from the road surface to prevent aquaplaning. When your tyres get below the legal minimum tread of 1.6mm, they canít perform these tasks properly.
The penalty for falling below this level is £2,500 and three points on your licence - and this is per tyre. Bear in mind though, safety experts recommend replacing your tyres once the grip gets below 3mm. If you donít, youíre likely to have difficulty when cornering and braking in heavy rain. Research commissioned by the British Rubber Manufacturers Association found that in wet conditions, stopping distances on smooth concrete were 44.6 per cent greater with a grip of 1.6mm compared to 3mm, and they were 36.8 per cent greater on hot rolled asphalt.
Itís therefore well worth keeping a close eye on your tread - and replacing your tyres once they wear down below a safe level.
What are the tell-tale signs of ageing?
Tyres generally wear out before they become dangerous due to ageing, but itís worth being aware of the signs of damage caused by exposure to rain, heat and sunlight. These problems are more common in trailers, caravans and other vehicles that are only used occasionally. Also, exposure to salt water in coastal areas, and contact with certain cleaning chemicals, can speed up the ageing process.
The major indicator that your tyres are deteriorating in this way is cracking on the side walls. These defects are caused by flexing and they increase the risk of tyre failure. Itís a good idea to get into the habit of inspecting your tyres for cracks from time to time. Meanwhile, if tyres on trailers or caravans arenít in regular use, make sure you check them before each journey.
How can Kwik Fit help?
As this blog highlights, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to tyre ageing. The important thing is to make sure you look after these pieces of kit and know how to spot any potential problems.
If you think your tyres need to replaced, we can help. At Kwik Fit, we stock an impressive variety of tyres to suit your driving needs and your budget. For your convenience, we also provide express fitting and mobile fitting services. Simply browse our website or get in touch to discover more.
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