As Britain begins to emerge from lockdown, we know that many cars and vehicles have been sitting idle on driveways and roads up and down the country for the last couple of months. However, before you head back to work or make that first journey in your car, it is important you first give it a check over to ensure it is still safe to drive.
As well as checking the oil, coolant and screen wash levels, you should also check an easily overlooked set of items, namely your vehicle’s tyres and arguably the most important things to check, as your safety is in their hands.
There are some very easy checks you can carry out yourself, whilst other checks are probably best done by your local tyre specialist.
We got in touch with Pirelli to see what they recommend motorists do, and their experts recommended the following five things to check when it comes to tyre safety.
Firstly, give each tyre a visual inspection and look for any lumps or deformations that may have been caused by the car standing still for a long time. You should also check for damage, cuts, abrasions and importantly any bulges in the tyres. You should also check that the valve caps are on tightly.
Secondly, assuming you have a tyre gauge and pump at home, check all the tyre pressures as well as the spare tyre if you have one. If you don’t, most local petrol stations do, so if you are planning to fill your car with fuel, make sure you stop by their tyre pump and check all your tyres before you drive off. Having the correct tyre pressure will not only give you better fuel economy, but also help pick up any slow punctures.
Thirdly, check for tyre wear. This is something you should do on a regular basis anyway, and not wait once a year for your MOT or service. Ensure that the remaining tread depth is above the legal limit of 1.6 millimetres tread depth. This can be checked using the tread depth indicator on the tyre itself: which is a 1.6-millimetre-high ridge of rubber within one of the main tyre grooves. You will find it just above the TWI (Tread Wear Indicator). There are six of these TWI markings on the upper part of the tyre’s sidewall. If you find that rubber ridge is at the same level as the groove itself, then the tyre is down to the legal minimum and should be changed immediately.
Fourthly, when driving your car for the first time, check for any vibrations through the steering wheel, and if the vibrations don’t disappear after a few miles, then you should get it checked by a tyre expert, as your wheel balance may be out and could cause the inner or outer wall of your tyre to wear unevenly.
And lastly, if you have two sets of tyres for winter and summer use, then be sure to check you have the correct set on for this time of the year. Pirelli recommends fitting summer tyres for the hotter months, as these have a specific compound designed to maintain high levels of reliability even at high temperatures. Alternatively, if like most of us, you have just one set of tyres, then Pirelli say that their All Season tyres are a good alternative and will save you the need of having two sets of tyres.
The Pirelli Performance Centre network has 128 depots around the UK and should you wish to get your tyres checked at one of these specialists then visit www.pirelli.co.uk/ppc to find your nearest centre. Each Performance Centre offers their expertise in recommending, fitting and balancing high-performance tyres with first-class customer care and attention. Retailers within the network maintain the highest standards through a 130-point technical audit, which each centre has to complete twice a year.
Dominic Sandivasci, Chairman & CEO of Pirelli UK Tyres Ltd said: “The tyre is the only part of your vehicle that makes direct contact with the road. So we recommend checking tyres visually to see if there are any lumps or deformations caused by the car standing still for a long time, or by the weather. Check also for damage, cuts, abrasions and the tyre bulging and ensure that the valve caps are tight. Have your tyre pressures checked, including the spare tyre: ideally at a tyre dealer with professional measuring equipment. This helps guarantee optimal performance and safety, as well as ensuring that your vehicle’s fuel economy is not adversely affected.”
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a member of The Guild of Motoring Writers, professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs courtesy of Pirelli