Don’t let this useless ‘safety’ check put you in danger

Don’t let this useless ‘safety’ check put you in danger
Don’t let this useless ‘safety’ check put you in danger

Motorists have been warned not to rely on a cliched and useless method of checking tyres after new research revealed shocking levels of ignorance when it comes to car safety.

A survey of more than 20,000 drivers found that almost a third (32 per cent) though kicking a car’s tyres was a reliable means of checking if they were properly inflated.

Despite such widespread belief, kicking a car’s tyres won’t tell you anything useful about its pressure or anything else about its condition. And relying on it as a means of gauging a tyre’s safety could leave you at risk on the road.

Lack of knowledge

The shocking ignorance was uncovered by Halfords Autocentres. Its tyre expert, Bob Masters, commented: “It’s an old cliché but we’re surprised to see that many motorists still use this test.

“Unfortunately kicking a car tyre will tell you absolutely nothing about its roadworthiness.

“Whether you drive a Toyota or a Tesla the only thing keeping your car in contact with the road is your tyres, so it’s vitally important that they are given a thorough inspection to see that they are correctly inflated and the tread depth is adequate.”

Sufficient tread depth is vital to staying safe but 40 per cent of drivers don't know the legal minimum. (Picture: Shutterstock)
Sufficient tread depth is vital to staying safe but 40 per cent of drivers don’t know the legal minimum. (Picture: Shutterstock)

The study also found that two in five motorists were clueless on the minimum legal tread depth and on how to check the age of their tyre.

Worn tyres and shallow tread depth can reduce braking and steering ability, especially in wet conditions. The difference in stopping distance between tyres at the legal minimum 1.6mm and at 3mm is an extra eight metres – almost two car lengths.

The poll also found that many motorists are ill-prepared for a break-down with 11 per cent not knowing whether their car had a spare wheel or puncture repair kit.

Checks to avoid fines

The maximum fine for driving with illegal tyres is £2,500 and three penalty points per tyre so it makes financial sense as well as safety sense to check them.

Halfords Autocentres also recommend you do the following checks yourself as good practice, and to ensure maximum safety on the road:

  • Change your tyres in pairs to avoid creating an imbalance in grip and rolling resistance that can affect handling and braking
  • Check tread depth – the wider your tyres are the increased risk of aquaplaning in wet conditions. Make sure you change your tyres if the depth of tread on your tyres drops to 2mm
  • Inspect the tyre conditions – look for unusual lumps and bumps or irregular wear.
  • Keep your air pressure at the right level – refer to your car manual or stickers on the fuel flap and check the pressure is correct for your car’s load

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