Before you resume the school run, make sure you check your tyres

Before you resume the school run, make sure you check your tyres

24 Aug

By Gwyn Fennell

It’s been a fine, sunny summer, one that we’ll remember for a long time, but all good things must come to an end. As we approach the final days of August, the end of school holidays countdown is well and truly underway, and before you know it, our kids will be back in the classroom – after many parents have resumed a key responsibility – the daily school run.

And that means not only ferrying the kids to and from school, but being vigilant for those on the pavement who – not unrealistically – may wander into the road without first looking at the trafffic. With this in mind, it makes good sense to check the tyres fitted to your vehicle, and make sure they’re up to the task of protecting not just your children, but those of other parents.

Good tyres are vital for safer driving

The tyres fitted to your car are arguably the most important factor in ensuring your driver safety, that of your kids, and other children walking to and from school, too. Why? Because your tyres are the only part of your vehicle that is actually in contact with the road, and their contact patch – the part of the tyre that touches the road at one time – is no bigger than that of a smartphone.

When thought of in this way, you begin to realise just how vital it is to fit good tyres. If your tyres aren’t as good as they could be, how can you be confident that your kids are at their safest when being driven to and from school?

With this in mind, the experienced tyre team at Protyre, and leading global tyre manufacturer, Continental, present this essential back to school tyre check safety advice. When it comes to road safety, we both believe it’s important for all parents – just like you – to be as fully informed as possible of the importance of having good tyres fitted to your vehicle.

Good tyre tread depth makes all the difference to safety

Your tyre treads – those long grooves that you can see running along the length of your tryes –have a vital role to play in ensuring you have all the grip you require to maintain control of your vehicle, particularly when the roads are wet. Despite the hottest UK summer in over forty years, we all know from experience that sooner rather than later, it will start raining again, resulting in a return to wet, greasy, slippery road surfaces – just when you need grip the most.

Your treads are responsible for dispersing water from between your tyres and the road – creating grip – and this can only be done quickly and effectively if they have good tread depth. How much depth? Well, when you first buy a brand new set of premium tyres, they have a full 8 mm of tread. This amount provides you with superb grip, but as time goes by, and the treads wear down, so too does their ability to clear any water from the road. As a result, drivers experience a reduction in grip – especially when braking on wet roads.

To minimise the dangers of having insufficient grip, both Protyre and Continental recommend that your tyres have at least 3 mm of tread depth. We don’t believe that motorists should let their treads wear down to the UK road legal minimum of 1.6 mm. Why? Simply because time and time again, independent braking tests have conclusively demonstrated that it can take as much as two additional car lengths to come to a complete stop on 1.6 mm of tread, compared to tyres that have 3 mm.

Think about that for a moment – two additional car lengths – then imagine the potentially catastrophic consequences if, for instance, a distracted child walked out into the road, and the grip from your tyres isn’t sufficient to avoid a collision… Minimising your stopping distances is vital for not only protecting the children you’re driving, but those who may step out in front of you, too.


Checking your tyre tread depth

Tread depths can be checked in a number of ways, but if your vehicle is fitted with any Continental series 5 or higher tyres – like the ContiPremiumContact™ 5 and PremiumContact™ 6 – you’ll already be benefitting from the additional 3 mm TWIs – tread wear indicators – that are built in as standard. These handy indicators let you know when you’re down to this level of tread, prompting you to replace your tyres.  

Not every tyre maker includes these, but Continental strongly believe in drivers being able to make an informed choice – part of their global Vision Zero safety initiative, whose stated aim is to achieve zero fatalities, zero injuries and zero accidents on the road. It’s an admirable ambition, one that deserves all of our support, and something we all have a vested interest in – and part to play. So why not make a contribution to not only your own, but everybody’s road safety, and check your tyre tread depths before you’re back on the school run. If you find that your tyres aren’t as good as they should be, get new premium tyres fitted.
Top Tip: If you’re unsure about your tyre tread depths, try the “20p Test”.

Make sure you have the correct tyre pressures

When did you last check your tyre pressures? Have you ever checked them? If you never have, or haven’t checked for some time, it’s essential that you do – before you start the school run, and the kids are back in the classroom. Why? Because pressures have a direct impact on how well your tyres can perform. If your tyres are in fact correctly inflated, they’ll be at an optimum shape, allowing them to perform as they’re intended to – providing the grip you need to stay in control. However, with tyres that are either under inflated, or over inflated, it’s a different story…

Under inflated tyres

If your tyres are under inflated, they’ll experience uneven wear. This happens at the outside edges of the tyre, due to having an incorrect shape – too wide at the bottom. This means too much of the tyre’s edges makes contact with the road, while at the same time the central area’s contact is reduced. This is especially problematic, since the main central area of the tyre – where the treads are – is what generates the essential grip you need.

This unnecessary contact also results in the need to burn more fuel to turn your wheels. As a consequence, if you’re driving on under inflated tyres, expect to spend more on fuel.

Over inflated tyres

Uneven wear is also an issue of with over inflated tyres, but in this case it will occur along the centre of the tyre – the vital area where your treads generate essential grip. Why? Because with over inflation, the shape of the tyre is more pointed at the centre, lifting the edges away from the road. This uneven distribution of weight and contact ultimately leads to overly premature wear along the centre of the tyre.

This is a big problem, since the central tread area of the tyre is just the place where you need the most grip. A reduction in grip here, in wet weather conditions, means your tyres can’t perform optimally. As a result, you’ll experience longer stopping distances, and this, in turn, increases the possibility of having a collision. Remember, with kids heading back at school, there’s every chance it could be with one of them.

Over inflation also means that there’s more chance of you having a tyre blowout, or puncture. This is because an over inflated tyre is too taut, and as such doesn’t have enough flex and give to absorb sudden bump, shocks and impacts. With over inflated tyres, you’re at an increased risk of losing control of your vehicle.

For all these reasons, and more, be sure to check your pressures, before the holidays are over, and the new school year begins.

One last point – watch out for any tyre damage

Your tyres experience an incredible amount of stress and strain, so it’s inevitable that they may sustain some damage. Having the correct tyre pressures will not only help reduce the chances of having a blowout, but also experiencing tears, cuts, nicks, bubbles or bulges on the sidewall – the area of your tyre that undergoes the most punishment.

Then there’s the possibility of sustaining a puncture. Sharp objects – like glass, or metal – seem to be more and more common on UK roads. This may be because of cuts to local services – including road maintenance – but whatever the reason, there’s a chance that a sharp object cound become embedded in your tyres. If this happens to you, it’s vital that you spot this as early as possible, so that the problem doesn’t escalate. Regulary checking your tyres for damage will minimise the possibility of this, including sustaining a puncture

Protection against the consequences of a puncture

That said, even regular tyre checks can’t guarantee avoiding a puncture, so how best to protect yourself, and your children while doing the school run?

Continental’s superb ContiSeal™ technology immediately negates the consequences of a puncture, such as having to stop driving, and changing tyre. This incredible extended mobility solution automatically seals any puncture – up to 5 mm in diameter – from the inside of the tyre, stopping the outflow of air, and preserving your ability to carry on driving.

There’s no need to stop on the roadside for a tyre change, an experience which anyone who has had to do so before can tell you is uncomfortable, at best, and altogether fraught with danger – especially if you have to worry about having kids in the car. No wonder ContiSeal™ is so popular, particularly with families. You can find the technology across many of Continental’s premium tyre range – including the ContiSportContact™ 5 SUV and the ContiEcoContact™ 5. If you’d like to know more, talk to our expert team at your local Protyre garage.

Unsure about a back to school tyre check? Talk to Protyre

The experienced, expert tyre team at Protyre are here to offer you impartial tyre advice. Our dedicated tyre professionals can answer any questions you may have, and provide you with the best fitting solution for your vehicle.

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