Many vehicles won’t have been used much since Christmas and most of those that have are likely to have only been used for short trips. While it’s tempting to put maintenance checks on hold, TyreSafe is advising drivers to check their vehicle’s tyres during lockdown to potentially save themselves money in the long run and reduce the risk of a tyre-related incident when they do return to the roads.
Most drivers are aware of tread wear over time, yet may overlook other important checks such as condition and air pressure if their vehicles aren’t regularly out on the road. They shouldn’t: A tyre is likely to harden and crack more quickly when left stationary than when it is regularly used. Cracking could appear more quickly if a tyre is left on a vehicle parked for any significant period of time without the heat and movement from nominal use. To protect them from the elements, tyres should ideally be covered.
While the effect of hardening usually takes months to have a noticeable impact on tyre condition, it can appear at any time on tyres fitted to a vehicle for some years.
The weight of the vehicle resting on one section of a tyre also presents long-term problems. The tyre can become misshapen, which can create weak points internally. When used at higher speeds, these weak points create excessive heat and can lead to a catastrophic failure of the tyre. Vehicles should be moved regularly to ensure they do not rest on the same point.
To reduce the risk of long-term damage caused by being out of use, a tyre’s air pressure should also be maintained at the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended settings. The correct air pressure (displayed as PSI or Bar) can be found in the owner’s manual, the fuel filler cap or door shut. An accurate pressure gauge should be used to check all tyres are properly inflated, including the spare wheel where applicable.
“It’s easy to fall into the trap of ignoring maintenance checks when you’re not using your vehicle, but there are good reasons to keep up the routine,” comments Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman. “Most likely, using a vehicle with underinflated tyres will just add to your fuel bill and increase wear but there are instances when the outcome is far, far more severe. It’s imperative all vehicle owners continue to check their tyres throughout lockdown – look after your tyres and they will look after you.”