Winter storms a reminder to check tyres

15th January 2014

The recent winter storms, which were the worst to hit Britain for two decades, have shed light on the importance of keeping on top of tyre maintenance.

Storms that battered Britain over the festive period made driving conditions treacherous, with standing water still a hazard in many parts of the UK due to its potential to cause aquaplaning.

Road surfaces damaged by winter storms also pose a number of tyre challenges, but drivers can protect themselves by keeping up a regime of tyre checks and maintenance.

Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe, said: “Although floods in many areas are starting to subside, motorists are still faced with a couple of serious tyre related challenges which can be minimised if they spend a few moments regularly checking their tyres.

"The checks are incredibly easy to make, but they could make the world of difference to your safety on the road.”

Water between the surface of the road and tyres can cause serious problems if the tyres fitted to a vehicle do not have the sufficient tread depth to deal with the standing water. A lack of tread can lead to the build up of water in front of the tyres until they lose contact with the road surface.

This loss of traction, or aquaplaning, causes the wheels to slip and prevents the vehicle from responding to steering, braking or acceleration, which can lead to a loss of control in some circumstances, causing the car to skid or spin dangerously, putting drivers and other road users in danger.

Motorists should check that they have sufficient tread depth to cope with anything the conditions throw at them. New tyres have a tread depth of around 8mm, which is much greater that the legal minimum requirement of 1.6mm.

Once tread depth drops below around 2mm drivers should consider fitting new tyres to their vehicle to ensure their tyres have the capability to deal with standing water.

Often the first time you realise your tread is below the recommended legal limit is when your car aquaplanes, so it is important to know what to do should it occur while behind the wheel. It can be tempting to grip the wheel and try and steer out of any skid or slide, however, the AA recommends holding the steering wheel lightly and lifting your foot off the accelerator, giving the tyres the chance to recover and regain grip on the road.

Damaged road surfaces pose a different problem when it comes to driving and the condition of your tyres. The recent bad weather may have created new potholes to develop on the roads and the level of standing water may also hide these hazards.

When hitting large potholes, tyres can become damaged, which may cause them to fail catastrophically without any notice, leaving the driver unable to control the vehicle. This makes it very important drivers check their tyres at least once a month, or more frequently if they hit a pothole.

Looking for cuts, bulges or lumps and checking the pressure of all four tyres is also vital.

Posted by Danielle Barge