If you’re planning on driving to your holiday destination, it makes sense to check your tyres first

If you’re planning on driving to your holiday destination, it makes sense to check your tyres first

05 Jul

By Tom Boote

Now that summer has finally arrived – and what a scorcher it’s been, so far – it’s time for a holiday. But instead of going abroad, many Brits are opting for a staycation – preferring to remain in the UK, and enjoy the delights that our country has to offer.

By taking advantage of the extensive and easily accessible road system that we’re blessed with throughout the UK, drivers and their passengers can experience the varied and scenic destinations that so many overseas visitors travel vast distances to our shores to enjoy.
Not only does driving mean you can go wherever – and whenever - you want, it’s also possible to transport everything you require with minimal effort, and avoid having to deal with frustrating flight delays, airport transfers, or train cancellations.

Preparation is important

Whether you’re planning a road trip, caravan holiday, or just travelling to your holiday destination by car, the fact remains the same – your vehicle is a vital component to making your holiday run smoothly and hassle-free.
Whilst aeroplanes and trains have people paid to manage and maintain them, car owners are responsible for their own vehicle’s upkeep – such as ensuring the coolant, oil and windscreen wash levels are topped off, and that all the lights are working correctly. But there’s something even more important to check first – the condition of your tyres.
The well-being of your tyres is crucial in keeping you and your vehicle safely on the road – the grip created from the four contact patches between your tyres and the surface is essential for ensuring safer driving.

To maintain maximum grip, tyres must have both the correct pressures, and sufficient tread depth. Tyre experts, like us, and Continental – one of the world‘s leading premium tyre manufacturers – recommend that you regularly check your tyres for both.

The importance of having correct tyre pressures

Having the correct tyre pressures doesn’t just increase your road safety, it also helps reduce tyre wear and fuel consumption. All of the multiple benefits from checking tyre pressures before your holiday are easy to achieve, and it‘s a great way to start your vacation.
When your car contains a heavier load, weighed down with holiday luggage and equipment, the pressure for normal, ‘unladen‘ driving isn’t going to be suitable. Instead, the pressure value you need will be that for a laden load. Both of these values can usually be found either printed on the inside of the fuel cap, or inside the driver door.
It’s recommended that you check your pressures either before you set off on your journey, or just after – but your tyres should ideally still be cold. Pulling into the nearest garage or petrol station, and using their facilities, is relatively cheap and easy to achieve. All you need to do is unscrew the tyre dust cap, and attach the air hose. Because the hose also measures pressures automatically, you’ll instantly know whether your tyres are over or under inflated, allowing yo to quickly add or release air as appropriate.

What if I drive on under inflated tyres?

Under inflated tyres suffer from having an overly enlarged contact patch, due to being too flat at the bottom – leading to higher fuel consumptions, and uneven wear at the tyre edges. Vehicle handling can also become sluggish – which, as a result of reduction in responsiveness, can lead to loss of control. As you can imagine, this can be very dangerous, especially at high speeds.
Under inflated tyres also add to the time it takes to come to a safe stop, significantly increasing stopping distances – particularly in wet weather conditions. As they’re softer, under inflated tyres are also more vulnerable to damage from sharp objects, compared to tyres that are correctly inflated.

What about if my tyres are over inflated?

Just like under inflation, over inflation causes uneven tyre wear – however, this time along the length of the tyre’s centre. Over inflation also results in a smaller contact patch with the road, reducing the amount of grip provided. This can be particularly problematic – and dangerous – in wet weather conditions.
Under inflation can also cause tyre damage to occur from sudden impacts and bumps – for example when encountering potholes or kerbs – because the tyre is too rigid, therefore lacking the flexibility to absorb shocks. Ultimately, this can result in a blow-out – particularly when travelling at high speeds whilst on a motorway.

Don’t forget that a car usually has five tyres, not four

Don’t forget to check the pressure of your fifth, spare tyre, as you never know when it’s going to be required. You don’t want to fit a tyre which has an incorrect pressure that doesn’t match the other tyres, right?
One final point on tyre pressures. It’s important to remember to reduce your tyre pressures back to the unladen value, once you’ve unloaded the car at your destination. The chances are you may wish to drive while on holiday, so you’ll need to reduce the pressures back down to their unladen value. And of course, don’t forget to increase them again before setting off on your return home with a laden car.

Good tread depth is vital

As mentioned earlier, incorrect inflation can lead to uneven tyre wear. It’s important to be aware of this because this wear – uneven or otherwise – reduces tyre tread depth. Tyre treads – the grooves which run along the length of the tyre – are key for dispersing water from wet roads. Without good tread depth, you may not have enough grip – which can be especially dangerous for a laden vehicle.

Typically, brand new tyres come with 8 mm of tread. When combined with the superior rubber compounds of a premium tyre, such as the award winning ContiPremiumContact™ 5, this tread depth provides optimal grip for drivers, especially on wet surfaces.

Whilst – over time – all tyres will gradually wear down, in an exact like for like driving comparison, premium tyres typically last longer than cheaper budget tyres. This is due to their higher quality rubber compounds.
Despite the UK road legal minimum tread depth being 1.6 mm, many tyre and road safety experts – including Protyre, Continental, and TyreSafe – recommend that motorists change their tyres when the tread is down to 3 mm.

Less tread depth means less water can be cleared quickly – resulting in less grip. This can be seen in independent braking tests performed in wet weather conditions, which conclusively demonstrate that stopping distances are significantly increased when the tread is just 1.6 mm, compared to when 3 mm.

Research shows that it can take up to twice as far to come to a safe, full stop. In addition, without the sufficient tread, the possibility of aquaplaning is dramatically increased – as are the chances of an accident occurring.

It’s easy to check your tyre tread depth

Although there are tyre depth gauges you can purchase, another option is to perform the “20p Test”. All you have to do is place a 20p coin into the tread grooves of the tyre, and if the coin’s outer band is obscured, you know your tread is above the legal minimum. However, if the top band is visible, then your tyres may be illegal.
Considering that if you’re stopped by the police with illegal tyres fitted, you risk a fine of £2,500 and 3 penalty points for each tyre, it’s simply not worth the gamble. So, if you’re unsure whether you have enough tread depth, visit your local Protyre garage for impartial, expert advice.

Look out for tyre damage

Driving with damaged tyres not only risks incurring a fine and points on your licence, it also jeopardises your driver safety – especially if you’re on a long journey.
If you’re driving a heavily laden vehicle or towing a caravan, there’ll be much more stress on your tyres – which increases the chance of tyre failure. As nobody wants their holiday spoilt by an accident, you can minimise the likelihood of tyre damage by knowing what to look for – and how to avoid it in the first place.

Tyre sidewalls

Considering how your sidewalls absorb the stresses and forces that your tyres endure, it’s vital to maintain their integrity. Tyre pressures play a significant role in achieving this, ensuring that the tyre shape and strength is at its optimum. However, whilst tyre pressures are an important factor in achieving integrity, it’s not the only factor to be aware of.

Tyres should be regularly checked for any tears, cuts, nicks, bubbles, or bulges in the sidewall – and it’s imperative that you do so before setting off on your holiday. These can all be indicators of serious damage to the tyre’s structure – which means that you and those around you could be at risk of a serious accident, caused by tyre blowout.

As the consequences of which – if it happens whilst driving at high speeds – can be catastrophic, if you spot any of this kind of tyre damage, make sure you get it checked by an expert immediately, and – if necessary – have the tyre replaced.

Avoiding tyre damage best practice

Although admittedly it’s not always possible, avoiding the following can significantly reduce the chances of sidewall damage:

Roadside kerbs
Long-term problems can arise from scuffing your tyres on these.

Bangs and scrapes with potholes can seriously damage your tyres.

Under and over inflated tyres
Incorrect inflation puts unnecessary additional stress on your sidewalls.

Oil and dirty water
You should try to clean off any spilt petrol, oil, or dirty water from your tyres with a little water and washing up liquid, as prolonged exposure to solvents and oils softens the rubber – making it more vulnerable to damage.

Glass, nails, and other sharp objects
Sharp objects can cause tears, cuts and nicks. This - over time - can escalate into something more serious, and often results in tyre blowout.

Minimise the chance of punctures

Often, you only become aware of any unseen debris on the road – such as glass and metal fragments, or stones – only after you’ve made contact with it. This can do serious damage to your tyres, and sometimes result in a puncture.

To minimise the chance of a puncture, inspect your tyres before you set off on your holiday. Any objects found lodged in the tread, or pressed into the compound, should be carefully prised out with a set of pliers.


ContiSeal™ minimises the effects of a puncture

Whilst there’s nothing that drivers can realistically do to safeguard against encountering any of these objects – after all, punctures are a fact of everyday driving – there is a way to avoid any subsequent issues from arising.

ContiSeal™ technology – created by Continental – automatically seals any hole (up to 5mm in diameter) from inside the tyre, stopping the air from escaping, and allowing you to continue driving to the nearest garage. This minimises the consequences of getting a puncture, meaning that an immediate stop or roadside change – an experience which can be very difficult and intimidating – is no longer needed.

In a jam-packed car, full of holiday luggage, this can be especially beneficial, as you won’t have to remove all your belongings from the boot to get to the spare tyre – a task that could otherwise be particularly unpleasant if you’re stopped on the hard shoulder of a fast moving motorway, or pressed against an incline along the side of a narrow country lane.

ContiSeal™ is just one of Continental’s many tyre safety and comfort technologies that are ideal for UK drivers undertaking long distance travel by road to their holiday destination. You can find it across many products in their tyre range, including the ContiSportContact™ 5 SUV, the ContiSportContact™ 5, and the ContiEcoContact™ 5.

ContiSilent™ – the tyre that reduces interior noise

Driver safety – though incredibly important – is not the only thing that Continental considers for its leading tyre products. They also pay close attention to driver comfort – making sure that the tyre compliments the handling and ride characteristics of the vehicle, making for a more comfortable driving experience.

That’s why one in three new passenger vehicles that roll off the production lines in Europe are fitted with their “OE” – Original Equipment. But they don’t stop delivering an optimal driving experience there.

ContiSilent™ is a dedicated noise-reduction technology that works on all road surfaces. It‘s effective in all weather conditions, and doesn’t compromise driving performance characteristics. Not only that – mileage and load/speed capability are maintained. ContiSilent™ reduces noise thanks to an inner tyre absorber – made from polyurethane foam – which is attached to the inner surface of the tread area.

Since cabin noise is a common problem for many vehicles, and ContiSilent™ is so effective, many leading automotive manufacturers have approached Continental for this solution. ContiSilent™ technology is currently available for summer tyres, and are compatible with all commonly sized wheel rims. You’ll find the technology in Continental’s latest award winning, high performance SportContact™ 6 tyre.

Driving to your holiday destination? Talk to Protyre for impartial, expert advice

You don’t want to have to worry about your tyres while on holiday, so why not visit your local protyre garage for impartial, expert tyre advice? Our dedicated tyre professionals can help you with all your needs, including tyre suggestions, and expert fitting solutions.

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Tom Boote

Tom has over 5 years’ digital marketing experience within the automotive industry in both B2B and B2C environments. Through this, Tom has honed his skills in digital communications, marketing, branding and web content management.  At Protyre, Tom is responsible for creating engaging and informative content across the website that provides consumers with expert advice on MOTs, servicing, vehicle maintenance and tyre care. As a motorsport enthusiast, Tom enjoys documenting the Protyre Motorsport team’s involvement in major motorsport events across the UK.

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