The main materials of modern tyres are the synthetic rubber, natural rubber, fabric and wire, along with other compound chemicals.
The tyre consists of a body and the tread. While the body provides and ensures that there is support, the tread provides the traction.
In the days before the rubber tyre was invented the tyres were then made up of simply a band of metal fixed and fitted around the wooden wheel so as wear and tear were reduced. Nowadays, most tyres used are that of Pneumatic, which is a body of chords and wires in a doughnut shape incased in rubber and then filled with compressed air to form the inflatable cushion, these tyres can be found on almost all types of cars, bicycles, motorcycles, trucks, and even aircraft.
Research shows that the first Pneumatic tyre was made in 1887 by John Boyd Dunlop from Scotland, he made it to try and help prevent the headaches that his son was getting from riding his bike on bumpy surfaces.
Today over 1 billion tyres are produced annually, globally there are over 400 tyre factories, and the 3 main top makers take up 60% of the global share!
So, why are keeping your tyres in good condition so important?
Your tyres work hard – cushioning you from bumps, maintaining responsive steering and most importantly allowing you to stop quickly if needed.
As one of your vehicles most important features, manufacturers will have carefully selected your tyres from the top makers in the market. They will be chosen for their reliability, performance, and safety, and will be wisely selected to suit your new or used car.
However, constant contact with the road surface means that over time your tyres will begin to wear down. Not only can this impact on your driving experience, but it also means your tyres can become unsafe and possibly illegal to continue to use on the roads.
So, why is tyre tread so important?
Your safety, along with that of your passengers and other road users, can be critically linked to the condition of your tyres. If tyre tread depth falls below the legal limit of 1.6mm then any of the following can occur:
· Road handling can be reduced
· Braking distances can increase
· The chance of aquaplaning is increased
Depending on the number of tyres that are illegal on your used car depends on the penalties, for just one tyre you will receive a fine of up to £2,500 and/or 3 points on your licence, two tyres £5,000 / 6 points, three tyres £7,500 / 9 points and finally all four tyres will come with a fine of up to £10,000 and/or 12 points on your licence! Driving with worn tyres is definitely a risk not worth taking!
But when should you replace the tyres on your used car?
Although the current legal minimum for tyre tread depth is 1.6mm, recent research shows that tyres with a tread below 3mm have a significantly reduced braking distance, especially in wet conditions. When tested, braking distance versus tread depth it was found that with the legal limit tread of 1.6mm the braking distance was 43m, with the recommended minimum tread of 3mm it was reduced to 35m, and when compared to that of new cheap tyres Reading with 8mm tread the braking distance was 25.9m.
Most main manufacturers service departments will recommend that based on the number of road traffic accidents caused by poor weather each year, that you should replace your tyres on your used car before they wear down to below the recommended 3mm. This could make a real difference to your vehicle’s safety. A good service department will advise that you should change your tyres when they reach the 3mm depth.
How can a service department help?
The benefits of having your used car serviced regularly are obvious. However, it’s also important to look after your tyres between these services and at all times. That is why most main dealers have now introduced a Tyre Safety Check Programme.
This is normally a free service that allows them to check the condition of your tyres and make sure that they are well maintained. A trained tyre technician assesses and gives advice on the life left in your tyres so you can safely carry on with great peace of mind. Ask your service adviser for this facility.