While many of us are aware that we need to have a yearly MOT check to ensure our cars are legally roadworthy, there are plenty of checks we can do ourselves to ensure our cars stay in top condition. In this article, we will explore how to maintain car tyres and why it can save money. You'll also learn why checking and buying the right car tyres is important for your safety.
How to maintain car tyres
Many of us leave car maintenance up to the garage during annual checks such as the MOT and a service. A yearly car service is actually optional, but highly recommended to flag any issues and to change filters and fluids. Both the MOT and the service will ensure your car runs optimally and need to be performed by a reputable garage, however, one thing that we can keep an eye on ourselves to ensure fuel efficiency and prevent breakdowns are the tyres.
It’s always a great idea to learn how to check the tyres ourselves on our own cars. Regular tyre inspection can save money on costly garage fees and breakdown costs associated with inadequate tyres. It helps ensure cars are safe and roadworthy in-between MOT tests and car servicing, particularly if you use your car on a daily basis. Having the right car tyres and checking them regularly can help you save money as a car owner, keep you safe and make sure you are driving legally.
If you have a family car, like us, then you'll want to make sure you are keeping the family car tyres as safe as possible to protect your children. I was definitely one of those people who relied on the annual MOT to maintain my car before having children, but now we have kids and a family car, we make sure we regularly check the car tyres, especially before a long journey so we are as safe as possible.
Not sure where to start when it comes to maintaining and checking your own car tyres? Read our tyre safety tips for some of the ways you can cut your car costs and maintain your car’s tyres:
Check for wear and tear
Simply looking at the tyres to assess their condition can be a good way to indicate their state. If they look worn and tired, then chances are they are. Seek a professional opinion if this is the case.
Replace worn tyres
Don’t drive with worn-out tyres. It’s not safe, legal or fuel efficient. You have two options for getting new tyres – either online or in-store:
Order new tyres online
If you need to replace your car tyres then it could be cheaper to source them online. With so many online options and companies competing for your business, you could find a really great deal compared to buying in-store. Plus there’s the availability of online voucher codes and cashback deals to reduce your purchase even more. You can order tyres online from reputable automotive stores like the Elite Direct Rainham Essex Branch and many other online retailers. Just remember to factor in delivery costs when working out the cheapest option for you and allow enough time to receive your new tyres. If you need to drive immediately and can’t wait then the next option of purchasing tyres in-store might be more suitable.
If you are buying tyres in-store, then don’t always go for the first price you are offered. Ring around a few tyre garages and ask for a quote for your tyres and fitting (if you need them to be fitted professionally). Share the best price you receive with each garage to see if they can beat it. Many garages will want your business and will be prepared to make a deal so you don’t go elsewhere. You can also mention the best price you’ve seen online to see if they can match or better it.
Check the tyre pressure and inflate/deflate to the correct pressure for your car type
Underinflated tyres can increase the amount of rolling resistance, leading to increased heat buildup and faster tyre wear. Overinflated tyres, on the other hand, can cause the centre of the tyre to wear faster, reducing the tyre’s overall life.
Driving with deflated tyres increases the risk of a burst tyre which increases the risk causing of an accident. If you over-inflate your car tyres you will have less traction on the road. You should regularly check the tyre pressure is correct as this will improve fuel efficiency by up to 3%.
To find the correct tyre pressure for your car, simply search online for a tyre pressure checker, enter your car registration and see the recommended pressures. The figures may be different for the front and back tyres. Use your own pump to inflate your tyres to the correct pressure, or use the air available for purchase at most fuel stations.
It’s really easy to inflate your own tyres at home with a tyre pump that plugs into the cigarette lighter socket. These devices cost as little as £10 to £20 and mean you can check your tyre pressure wherever you are or without needing to take your car away from home. This will save the cost of driving to a garage or fuel station and paying each time your tyres need more air.
One thing to note here is that extreme temperatures can cause the pressure in the tyre to change. So it’s important to check your car tyres in a heatwave or regularly if you have very hot or cold spells where you live. Hot weather can cause the rubber in tyres to disintegrate so keep an eye on them.
Check the tread
While new tyres might seem costly, it’s going to be a lot cheaper than driving around with tyres under the legal minimum tread depth. The minimum legal depth is 1.6mm, but you’ll want to change any tyre which is nearing this. In bad weather, such as when travelling in the winter and ensuring you travel safely over Christmas if you have a lot of rain and wet weather, you’ll want to change your tyres once the tread reaches 3mm to ensure your car is safe in wet conditions. 1.6mm is too low in wet conditions and you don’t want to risk it wearing down any more, so change it before it hits the absolute minimum.
If your tyres need replacing or you want a professional opinion then it’s always worth visiting a local tyre centre to seek an expert opinion. If you are close to Birmingham then one place to consider is Point S for selecting and buying tyres for your vehicle.
How to check tyre tread with 20p coin
Did you know you can check the depth of your tyre tread with a 20 pence piece? You can use a 20-pence piece to measure the tread on your car by yourself with ease! Maybe leave a 20p in your car for this purpose, so you can check your tyres wherever you are to ensure they are legal.
To do the 20p tyre check, simply insert the 20p in various places along the tyre tread, into the tread groove of your tyre. If the outer band of the 20p coin is covered when it is inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit and is sufficient. However, if you can see the outer band then your tyres may be illegal and below the 1.6mm depth. If you can see the outer band then your tyres need to be checked immediately by a professional and replaced if the tread is too worn.
Reasons why you must check your car tyre tread:
- You could be given a £2500 fine per tyre if below the legal requirements.
- If the tyres don’t have enough tread then the chance of an accident is higher so your safety, your passenger’s safety and the public’s safety is at risk.
- Any insurance claim will be invalidated if the tyre tread is not legal, so it’s important to regularly check these things.
Learn how to change a tyre
While you’ll want to go to a garage to change an old tyre for a new one, properly and professionally, it’s still a good idea to learn how to change a tyre yourself. If you wake up to a flat tyre then it’s going to cost a pretty penny for a tow truck to take you to a garage, unless you have a car breakdown cover in place that provides this service as part of your premium. If you are able to learn to change a tyre yourself then you’ll be able to switch the damaged tyre for the spare and get yourself to a garage.
If a tyre needs replacing then I’d recommend a professional tyre fitter as they will do it properly. It will come with a guarantee and they will be able to check the wheel alignment is correct too.
Check for objects
It’s good practice to check your tyres regularly for objects that may be stuck in them. Sometimes objects get stuck in the tyres which can cause a puncture resulting in a slow loss of air. These are known as slow punctures, but in a worst-case scenario, you could get a full-on puncture whilst driving. It’s important to address any objects you find in the tyres by seeking professional help from a tyre specialist.
A good look at your tyres once in a while will show if you have any objects stuck in them. Look around each tyre to see if there is anything stuck in them such as nails. If you find anything, such as a nail, embedded in the tyre then the best advice is to leave it there. It is probably plugging the gap for now preventing fast air loss, so it may be safer for you to leave it there while you carefully drive to your nearest tyre centre.
You can get something stuck in your tyre wherever you are, but if you're in a city like London where the roads are super busy and there is potentially more litter, then your tyres may be at higher risk for objects being stuck in them. As we all know London roads and city roads are super busy and there is a high probability of the roads having sharp objects. Whether it is New Kings Road, Shirley Road or Henleys Roundabout, you never know where the pointy objects exist which could harm your tyres. If you're in London then you can buy cheap tyres in London, by visiting DAT Tyres website. The trye experts may remove the object and repair the puncture, or they will replace the car tyre. If you are unsure about driving the car with the object stuck in the car then simply call your local tyre centre for advice.
We once noticed my husband's car had a nail stuck in the side of the tyre and we were able to have the tyre changed before it caused any further damage. We rang the nearest garage as we were on holiday at the time, described the situation and they advised us to drive slowly and carefully to their garage, calling them if there were any problems. Luckily they weren't very far away and were able to replace the tyre on arrival. If this ever happens to you, then do the same and take the help of a professional and don't risk driving unless they advise to!
How bad driving habits affect the tyres
Bad driving habits can have a significant impact on the wear and tear of your tyres. For example, aggressive driving such as sudden braking, accelerating, and cornering can cause excessive stress on the tyre, leading to uneven wear and potentially reducing the life of your tyre. Driving at high speeds can also generate excessive heat, which can weaken the tyre structure and cause it to wear out faster. Additionally, driving on poorly maintained roads can cause damage to the tyres from potholes and other road hazards.
Why overloading the vehicle is bad for tyres
Overloading a vehicle can put excessive stress on the tyres and cause them to wear out faster. The added weight can cause the tyres to flex more than they are designed to, which can cause the sidewalls to crack and the tread to wear down more quickly. Additionally, overloading can cause the tyres to overheat, which can cause the tyre to weaken and fail. Overloading can also cause the suspension and other components of the vehicle to wear out more quickly, which can lead to other problems and increased maintenance costs.
To avoid tyre problems caused by overloading, it is important to know the weight capacity of your vehicle and to ensure that you do not exceed it. This includes the weight of the vehicle, passengers, and cargo. Overloading can also cause handling problems, making it difficult to control the vehicle, especially in emergency situations, which can be dangerous.
How to save money by maintaining your car tyres
Keeping your car tyres in good nick will keep you safe, but it will also save you money. Here’s why:
No costly breakdowns or recovery – Under-inflated tyres can cause blowouts. Objects stuck in tyres can cause punctures. Too little tread is not safe in bad weather. Not only are these scary and dangerous situations to be in, especially if travelling at speed, but they can result in breakdown with repair expenses and recovery costs.
Better fuel efficiency – It’s estimated that 50% of the tyres on the road are under-inflated which is not only dangerous but increases fuel consumption! Save money on fuel by regularly checking you have the correct pressure in your tyres.
Prevent invalid insurance – If you are in an accident and your tyre tread is not the legal depth then this will render your car insurance invalid, meaning you’ll be liable for any costs as a result of the accident.
Spot and avoid other problems – Uneven wear on tyres can flag other car issues like an issue with the suspension. Noticing these signs when checking and maintaining your tyres on a regular basis could prevent some major repair costs or breakdowns in the future.
Avoid fines for illegal tyre tread – There’s a maximum £2500 fine per tyre that is below legal tread depth if caught, plus three penalty points for each illegal tyre. That could be a total fine of £10,000 if all four tyre treads are less than 1.6mm.
Final word on how to maintain car tyres and save money
In conclusion, maintaining your car tyres can save you money in the long run by avoiding costly garage fees, breakdown costs, and improving fuel efficiency. If you ignore your tyre health then there could be disastrous consequences. For example, as car drivers we have a legal responsibility to ensure the tread of our tyres is the correct depth and could face large fines if caught driving with treads below the legal limit. These aren't just maintenance tips to save money maintaining your car, but these are important tyre safety tips to keep you and others safe.
Regular inspection and checking for wear and tear, tread depth, and tyre pressure is important. If the tyres need to be replaced, consider buying them online for better deals or haggling in-store for a better price. Pop into your local tyre centre to ask for their advice and get a new tyre if need be. Maintaining your car and updating with new parts when needed is part and parcel of owning a car and its related costs.
With proper tyre maintenance, you can ensure your car's safety and roadworthiness, which ultimately translates to peace of mind and cost savings. It is also recommended to learn how to change a tyre yourself as it can save you money on tow truck fees.
Keeping your tyres maintained will keep you safe and save you money! It’s a no-brainer.