If you own a car or any other vehicle that you plan to use on the road, ensuring that it is roadworthy and fit for purpose is your responsibility – and having an MOT once a year isn’t where it ends.
You need to check your vehicle on a regular basis to make sure that nothing has deteriorated or become faulty, and you need to go beyond those advisory points from your MOT.
Lights, windscreen wipers, washer fluid and tyres are just some of the things that you need to check over every now and then. While worn wipers and low washer fluid can be spotted quite easily while you’re driving, you will need to get out of the car to do physical checks on lights and tyres.
Keeping your tyres within the legal limits is important not only for overall car safety but also because being stopped by the police and found with defective or worn tyres can result in a CU30, a penalty which carries three points and significant fines. This will also detrimentally affect the cost of your future vehicle insurance premiums.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few tips on how to check your tyres.
Checking the Tread
One of the first things to check on your tyres is the tread. Any completely bald spots will be easy to see, but you might not be so certain about the depth of the tread. While the law states that the minimum tread should be no less than 1.6mm, many experts believe that a tread of 3mm is much safer. Tests carried out by the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) indicate that the braking distance in the wet could be more than 40 percent higher on a tyre with a 1.6mm tread than on one with a 3mm tread, and that’s a huge difference if you need to brake suddenly in the rain.
So how do you check the tread on your vehicle? Most people will have heard about the 20 pence rule: you insert a 20 pence coin into the tread of the tyre, and if your tread is within the legal limit, you shouldn’t be able to see any of the outer smooth band of the coin. You should make sure that you check the tyre in multiple places; doing it once isn’t sufficient, because tyres don’t always wear evenly. As well as using a coin, there are many purpose-made tread depth gauges that you can buy. It is recommended that you check the tread on your tyres every month.
Also remember to check right the way around them. This means jacking the car up so that you don’t miss the part of the tyre that is in contact with the ground.
Get the Pressure Right
The pressure in your car’s tyres can also affect the safety of the vehicle. If it’s too high or too low, this can change the way the vehicle handles on the road, so it’s important to check this regularly and make sure that the pressure meets the manufacturer’s specification. Most petrol stations have a pressure gauge you can use, or you can buy your own gauge reasonably cheaply.
The sidewalls of your tyres have to withstand the pressure exerted on them while you’re driving, and damage to these can result in a potentially dangerous blowout, so checking them is as important as checking the tread and pressure. For the outside walls, you can do it visually and while a little cracking can simply be due to the age of the tyre, anything else you spot needs to be looked at by a professional. As a general rule of thumb, most damaged tyre walls cannot be repaired and will require a new tyre.
So, to keep yourself, and others, safe on the road, as well as complying with legislation so you don’t incur points or fines, take a moment or two every now and then to check over the tyres on your car. It’ll only take a few minutes, but it could save you money and even your life.
If you’ve been caught in the past with unroadworthy tyres and found yourself with a CU30 conviction, get in touch with Complete Cover Group. Our expert brokers will help you get the best insurance for you and your vehicle.
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