I work for National Tyres and Autocare; however, I’m not a tyre fitter or a trained mechanic, I’m a secretary and I know about spread sheets, diaries and telephones. In fact until recently my knowledge of cars and their respective parts could be likened to the historical stereotypical image of a female who refers to different types of car by colour and if any of you are interested, I own a blue car and it has four doors!
The owner of our business recently implemented an extensive training programme for all ancillary staff such as myself, to highlight the reasons why it’s important for every part of the vehicle to be checked regularly, not only to protect what is, in some cases, the second biggest investment we make after buying a house, but to protect those people who travel inside it. Although a lot of the information provided is common sense, I was particularly interested in the emphasis placed on tyres and their safety importance – especially when you think they’re the only part of your car in contact with the road (although mentioning no names “TERRY” down the road has a car whose exhaust seems to be acting as a fifth tyre – I’m completely fine with it but every time he gets home from work, the scraping sounds sets off next door’s dog and normally when there’s something decent on TV…as I say though, doesn’t annoy me – totally fine with it :I). Anyway, as your tyres SHOULD be the only point of contact with the road, if there’s a problem with your tyres, there are safety implications. Whilst some auto issues aren’t quite so glaringly obvious as Terry’s exhaust, it pays to spend a little time every month inspecting your tyres carefully. Check the tread and the tyre pressure – both can be done relatively quickly at home or you could take your car to National and have the tyres checked for free.
According to our training officer the tyre tread isn’t just a pretty pattern engraved in the tyre – who knew? The tread helps the tyre disperse water when it’s been raining so the car has better contact with the road – it reduces the risk of aquaplaning, improves braking distance and lowers the risk of you and your car being involved in an accident. In the UK, we have to have 1.6mm of tread on our tyres for them to be legal, although at 3mm its ability to its job properly decreases – it’s like having a few pints in your lunch hour. You’ll still be able to locate your office building, find your desk and remember how to use your computer but the 30 minute report takes a whole afternoon. There’s a really easy way to check your tread depth though so there’s no excuses – the only item required is a 20p piece (I normally find one in our 1p and 2p jar when someone’s been extravagant with their change). Take your 20p and pop the edge into the groove of the tyre – if you can see the outer edge of the 20p, your tyre needs checking and may need replacing.
The second biggest tyre related problem is improper tyre pressure. When your car was made, it was supplied with tyres that were a perfect fit for the size and shape of the car – part of that process involved deciding how much air was needed to go into the tyres to provide optimum performance. The measurement of air within the tyres is called psi which means pounds per square inch, which sounds to me more like a measurement of BMI. You can find out what psi your car tyres should be inflated to by looking at the car owner manual and then checking it with a tyre pressure gauge – most petrol stations have these. If your tyre is under inflated it may lead to premature damage of the tyre and having to fork out money to replace it before it should have been necessary. Under inflated tyres can also overheat and make driving on them almost impossible – your car needs to work harder to make the tyres go round and your petrol bill could rocket. And we’re back to safety again – an under inflated tyre increases the risk of an accident (around 6% of fatal motoring accidents are caused by under inflated tyres – approx. 1700 people were killed in road accidents last year so that’s just over 100 people whose lives could have been saved by checking your tyre’s pressure).
Now I have been guilty of this in the past…I don’t want to spend money on tyres and they’ll be ok for a few weeks longer right? No, no, NO! Something I’ve not mentioned yet but I’m a mummy and my little ones are very important to me. If I could smell gas in my house, I would pay for someone to come out and fix it….straight away! I wouldn’t wait a few weeks to see if it goes away – I want to provide them with the safest environment to live in. I spent about a month before my first child was born putting padding on every corner or sharp edge in my house, putting locks on every cupboard door and a good few months deciding on the safest car seat. Why would I then put them in a car with tyres that haven’t been checked as safe – something I could do with a trip to the petrol station and a 20p piece? Next time you’re prising the chewy sweets off the back seat and cleaning out the empty bags where you stash your sweet supply, get out the 20p piece and check – it only takes a minute!
Go to Tyreshopper.com – they have an excellent article on how to watch out for tyre-related problems and how accidents can be avoided.