RAC Cars News


Unsafe Tyres Reaches Boiling Point

By raccars Published

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Research recently revealed that UK drivers may be using 10 million potentially dangerous tyres. The danger comes not from sub standard tread depth but from old age wear and tear. Also noted in the study was the fact that drivers were unable to correctly identify the age of a car's tyres, only 17% spotting those past their best.

Generally, motorists are advised to change their tyres before the current legal minimum tread depth of 1.6mm is reached. However, a trend has been identified showing UK motorists are reducing their car mileage, meaning their tyres may suffer from old age before low tread depths are reached.

Car tyres in fact display the information needed to determine their age but well over half of UK motorists were unaware of this. Another 24% were aware the age could be determined but did not know how to do it, adding up to 83% of UK motorists unable to assess if their tyres could be out of date. Six million drivers conceded they may be using at least one that is more than five years old.

Tyres are manufactured with anti-oxidising properties, to protect them from declining with age but these are only effective on tyres that are regularly used. This means that cars used very infrequently or those stored from long periods of time will be running on tyres that, while well within legal minimum tread depths, are not benefiting from self-protection properties that will keep them safe.

New recommendations, therefore, suggest that tyres more than five years old could be unroadworthy even if very little used and should be changed as a safety precaution. Signs of structural decay in the tyre may be invisible but can often be seen as small cracks in the side wall. Low mileage, older cars, that nonetheless appear to have plenty of tread depth, are most at risk. Remember to check the spare tyre, which is more likely to be neglected and thus potentially more dangerous than the standard tyres.

The problem has also been found to have a regional bias, with London motorists using on average the oldest tyres. Forty one percent of residents in the capital admitted possibly using tyres of five years old or more. By contrast, only 22% of drivers in the North East were running on tyres of that age.

Motorists can find the month and year of manufacture of their tyres in a small box on the tyre wall, expressed as a four digit numeral.

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