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Prioritising Tyre Safety

Tyre Safety

According to data collected by electronic health check provider, autoVHC, the average UK dealership failed to replace 66 per cent of severely worn or faulty tyres in July 2017. This is worrying, as tyre condition is one of the most common causes of road accidents in the UK.

The data was collected from over 400 franchised dealers, revealing that 28,000 tyres were marked as having serious defects, including tread level below the legal limit. Despite the defects being identified, only around 9,000 replacement tyres were sold in July, which means that 19,000 dangerous tyres were driven away in one month alone.

Ultimately, it is down to the motorist to ensure that tyres are in good condition, but many drivers are unaware how dangerous driving on damaged tyres is. Also, drivers often struggle to easily identify or defective tyres. If the tyres are not changed soon after leaving the dealership, it could lead to consequences like MOT failure or road accidents. Drivers become significantly more likely to have a tyre-related breakdown if tyres are poorly maintained or incorrectly inflated. One cause of worn tyres is incorrect tyre pressure, which can increase tyre wear by 20 per cent.  Under-inflation causes extra wear to the outer edges of the tyre and results in more deflection of the tyre side wall – a similar effect to running tyres overloaded.

Under-inflation can permanently damage the sidewalls of tyres and can result in a tyre needing replacing. Studies have found that between 75 and 80 per cent of European vehicles have under-inflated tyres, which is estimated to result in 700,000 tyres being wasted through unnecessary wear. If vehicles are being sold with defective tyres, this could be a result of incorrect inflation. Motorists purchasing vehicles should check tyres for defects, as well as check for correct pressure. Otherwise, how can motorists be sure that their tyres are safe?

The only way to be sure that tyre pressure is correct is by using tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). By using a TPMS, drivers can get a heads up if tyres are under-inflated or overheating, alerting them before a problem occurs.

The systems are now fitted as a standard on all passenger vehicles manufactured in Europe after 2014, but the legislation has not extended to other vehicle types including vans, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), trailers and caravans, despite the serious risks.

Drivers of HGVs are required to perform daily walk-round checks on tyres. However, incorrect tyre pressure is almost impossible to spot by visual checks alone. Adding a TPMS reduces the risks significantly, keeping drivers and other road users safe.

The report released by autoVHC highlights a serious tyre safety problem. Motorists need to be aware of the risks of driving a vehicle with poorly maintained tyres and check their status on the day of, or soon after purchase. As well as checking for wear, tyre safety depends on correct pressure. In cars manufactured before 2014, caravans, HGVs and trailers, drivers should consider installing TPMS, for real-time updates on tyre pressure. It is up to motorists and fleet managers to use TPMS and regular tyre maintenance to make sure that vehicles are safe, to reduce the risk of breakdowns and accidents.

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