It seems unreasonable to be thinking about winter car care, when the sun is shining and the mercury’s high but, in fact, it is just a few short months away, sadly. Top of the priority car care list has to be tyres.
October is Tyre Safety Month, an annual event to promote awareness of tyre safety to all of the UK’s motorists. Obviously tyre safety checks should not be during one month of the year, but every week, checking for wear and tear. If doubt, consult the local car servicing garage who can advise on tyre safety.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a reliable tyre life calculator: There are just too many variables. Inevitably, how tyres are used and the mileage undertaken will have a bearing on their safe life. Bad driving doesn’t help and road and weather conditions take their toll. Potholes remain a menace, as ever.
So there are no set rules on the useful life of a tyre. Quality can make a difference; clearly a premium tyre will last longer than the budget version. Buyers have a right to expect that the most expensive tyres will last the longest but some budget brands can also do well. That’s why there are some popular new names on the market these days. Servicing also matters: Maintain a vehicle properly and tyres will last longer. Neglect will have an adverse effect on tyre wear, not to mention increasing the chances of a breakdown.
Under normal UK conditions (and note that this is an average, ball park figure), tyres should be fine for around 20,000 miles, give or take. There is only a certain amount of rubber available and when tyre tread is worn, it is less effective. Remember the 1.6mm minimum law.
Summer & Winter Tyres
Obviously, Summer tyres are optimised for Summer and Winter rubber for Winter. It’s popular now to switch from Summer to Winter tyres as the seasons change. It seems like an extra expense but, of course, each set will last twice as long; provided that is that they are stored correctly. If owners go down this route they need to make sure storage is correct.
Some motorists with deeper pockets might also go with two sets of rims to make the switch easier. Loose tyres, off the rims, should be stored upright and be rotated regularly. Tyres on rims and inflated can be stacked. Incorrect storage could lead to the tyre drying out and cracking, the sort of thing owners need to be looking for routinely.
This is key to getting the most from those expensive rubber hoops. Maintain the air pressure in tyres to recommended levels. There should be a sticker somewhere on the car, probably on the driver door shut. Soft tyres will wear more quickly. How a car is driven is also relevant. By deploying a steady, smooth driving style will mean that most tyres will last longer.
Inspect the tyres often and watch out for cracks in the rubber which weaken the side walls. This is a sign that the rubber is drying out, possibly through age and is a signal to renew. Check also for any bulges or uneven wear across the whole tread. The local tyre service will advise, if unsure.
All new tyres should be balanced when fitted but kerb strikes, say, or a deep pothole can affect that balance. The result is a wobble can be felt through the steering, especially at speed, resulting in uneven wear across the tyre tread surface. Time to fit new.
Tyres take a beating from rough road surfaces and sometimes grim weather conditions but with care they can be made to last several years, providing good safe service throughout.