AA Car Care: buying and looking after your tyres
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Tyres are the only source of contact between your car and the road. They are vital to a car’s safety and economy, especially at this time of year when roads are often wet or icy.
Many drivers are guilty of not taking the take the time to check the basics, such as tyre depth and pressure.
Your vehicle will fail its Warrant of Fitness (WoF) if the tyres are not up to scratch, and it’s often during your annual inspection where problems are brought to the surface. For conventional tyres, the minimum legal depth is 1.5mm.
We’ve compiled some tips to help you stay on top of your tyre maintenance.
Checking your tyres is easy
Many people don’t realise that you can quickly measure the tread of your tyres using just a 20-cent coin.
The bottom of the “20” is approximately 2mm from the edge of the coin, so with the number facing towards you, insert the coin into the tread of the tyre. If you can read the whole number then your tyre is around the legal threshold and it’s time to replace it.
If the “20” is still partly concealed, then you know that the tread of your tyre is within the legal guidelines.
Note that mud and snow tyres (often marked with M+S) have a legal requirement of 4mm.
Tyres with a low pressure can sag in the centre, causing wear on the outside edges which also affects handling and braking.
Tyres that are overinflated above 40psi, for example, can lead to increased wear in the middle of the tyre and give firmer ride. However, with stronger tyre construction. higher pressures offer longer life.
As a general rule, 32psi is acceptable for most. If you’re unsure, check the owner’s manual or consult with the manufacturer for the precise information.
It’s always a good idea to check your spare or space-saver tyre as well. Make sure it’s correctly inflated, look for any signs of wear and check that it’s secure in its holder with all of its tools. Used cars can sometimes be missing these tools, so double-check.
It’s easy to forget and neglect the spare, but you’ll be kicking yourself if you ever breakdown at the side of the road with a flat and can’t replace the tyre yourself.
AA members are entitled to up to two free AA 10-point vehicle checks per year, which is a basic inspection by an automotive technician. It’s advisable to get a basic service on your vehicle at least once every six months, especially prior to your WoF inspection date, to avoid any surprises.
Guide to buying new tyres
If you’re in the market for some new tyres, then safety and longevity are the first things to consider.
It’s best to choose tyres which have strong grip and will last the test of time. There are many manufacturers to choose from, but we recommend that you stick with the traditional, reputable brands who usually offer a range of tyres for most budgets.
Don’t risk investing your money in used tyres which are more likely to be old and perished, and subsequently more prone to cracking and blowing out quicker than a new tyre.
By going down this route, you’ll need to bear in mind that you have to factor in additional costs to recycle your old tyres, and get the replacements fitted and balanced. It may actually end up costing you more than you first thought and the price difference may be negligible.
Remember, used tyres will have less tread depth, which affects their performance. Tyres need good tread depth to be able to perform, especially in wetter conditions.
Tyres with no tread can’t dissipate water on the road, and will create a film of water beneath your tyres. Deeper treads, however, allow more water to be displaced, which provides superior grip on the road.
If only one of your tyres needs to be replaced, make sure to consider your options as tyres can quite often be cheaper to buy in pairs or a full set.
If you want to discuss your tyre options, then get in touch with your nearest AA Auto Centre, where one of our team members will be able to help. For more information, you can also click here.