Tyres are one of the most important parts of your car. They’re the only contact point between you and the road, so it’s important to look after them. These helpful tips will help to keep you safe and compliant with the law – you could also save money and reduce emissions.
Here’s a handy guide of everything you need to know about tyre maintenance.
Incorrect tyre pressure can affect your car’s handling, braking and even fuel efficiency. If you don’t put the required tyre checks in place, you can be putting yourself and others in danger when out on the road.
Underinflated tyres can overheat and result in higher fuel consumption. Overinflated tyres can result in poor handling and significantly reduce the lifespan of the tyre.
Check them regularly
Tyres lose pressure all the time, especially when it’s warm, so it’s important to check your tyres once a month, before long journeys or if you’re carrying a heavier load than you normally do. Even in ideal conditions, tyres can lose around 0.069 bar or 1 pound per square inch (psi) per month.
Tyres with the incorrect pressure generally suffer more damage and may then need to be replaced earlier. For the most optimum performance, the manufacturer of your vehicle may advise that you have slightly different pressures for both your front and rear tyres.
Did you know?
You can usually find the correct tyre pressures for your car either in the vehicle handbook, on the driver’s door pillar or inside the fuel filler flap.
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
Many new vehicles now have a TPMS which alerts you when there’s been a significant change in your tyre pressure. Don’t ignore this warning and check your tyres pressures as soon as it’s safe to do so. Reset the TPMS after you’ve correctly inflated the tyres, your vehicle handbook will show you how to do this.
The legal limit for tyre tread depth is 1.6mm, you should check the tread depth regularly. Stopping distances increase as tyre tread depth decreases because when you brake, the car relies on the tread to grip the road in the shortest possible time. These breaking distances will increase as your tread starts to wear, so it’s important to maximise the control and safety of your vehicle by maintaining tread depth above the legal limit.
Kwik-Fit offer a tyre checking service on a drive-in basis.
A tread depth gauge can also be used to measure the tread. Alternatively, you can check the tread indicator bars on the bottom of the tread grooves of the tyres. If any of these are lying level with the tread, then you need to replace your tyres.
Or, why not try the 20p test?
- Insert a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of your vehicle’s tyres
- If the outer rim of the coin is covered by the tread, you should be safe and legal
- If the outer rim of the coin is visible, you need to get your tyres inspected by a qualified tyre technician.
Check your tread
Try to check your tread depth in at least 3 different locations across the circumference of the tyre to ensure there is no uneven tread wear.
Check for damage
Cuts, lumps and bumps can be caused by impact, such as hitting a pothole or a kerb. If you notice your tyre has any damage, it’s important you get the tyre checked out by a tyre specialist as soon as possible.
Easy to remove items get stuck in the tread all the time, but if you spot something that looks as if it’s gone through the rubber, such as a nail, then leave it in until you can get to a garage so you don’t end up with a flat tyre.
Did you know?
Emergency braking can leave a ‘flat spot’ on your tyres. If your vehicle has been involved in an emergency manoeuvre, like sudden or heavy braking, it’s recommended that you get your tyres checked.
Convenient tyre replacement
Mobile fitment services are available to provide tyre replacements at whichever location is most convenient for you. They provide a high-quality, nationwide mobile service at your chosen location and time.
If you book before 12 noon replacements can usually be fitted on the same day by some providers.
Making the most of your tyres
Try not to overload
Carrying too much weight in your boot can often be overlooked. Overloading can cause excessive heat on the tyres which can affect the handling of your vehicle and cause increased wear. To find out the recommended weight that your tyres can carry, check the tyre label or the driver’s door pillar.
How often do you mount a kerb?
The common kerb mounting technique sometimes can’t be avoided, whether you’re trying to park on a busy street or get around an obstacle in the road. If you need to do it, take a slow approach at a small angle and try not to scrape the side of your tyre on the pavement.
Keep good driving behaviour
Whilst the key maintenance checks on your tyre pressure and tread depth are important for the upkeep of your tyres, the way you drive your car can also help to keep them in top condition.
Try to avoid excessive braking and acceleration. Driving as smoothly and consistently as possible will stop your tyres from wearing too quickly. Uneven road surfaces, like kerbs, can be hard to avoid but potholes and speed bumps can affect your wheel alignment, so remember – take it slow!
There’s no legal requirement to fit winter tyres in the UK but increasingly tyre manufacturers recommend them, and many drivers consider them for safety and performance reasons.
Winter tyres offer better traction, grip and braking performance than summer tyres in temperatures below 7°C. It’s important to note that when the temperature rises above 7°C, they’ll provide lower performance than summer tyres. Read more about our winter driving tips.