Michelin urges drivers to check tyres ahead of the summer holidays after revealing half fail to check pressures regularly

Tire Air Pressure Adjustment. Car Tires Maintenance. Closeup Photo.

Michelin is urging drivers to save money and improve safety by checking their tyre pressures before setting off to their sunny destinations.

The premium tyre brand surveyed UK drivers on their tyre pressure checking habits and found that 47% only check their tyre pressure once every few months or less. This means that close to half of UK drivers are failing to keep to the recommended monthly tyre pressure checks.

Michelin’s analysis suggests that UK drivers could lose an estimated £110 a year just in fuel bills due to the reduction in fuel efficiency caused by underinflated tyres. In addition, there is the risk of a fine should drivers be caught with tyres that are not deemed roadworthy.

Underinflated tyres can not only cause uneven wear patterns to evolve, a feeling of heavy steering, a harsher, less comfortable ride, and accidental damage to the tyre sidewall and internal reinforcing structure, but can also significantly reduce the fuel efficiency of the vehicle.

Michelin research shows that tyres underinflated by 15psi can reduce a car’s fuel efficiency by around 6%. With over half of UK drivers (51%) having taken a road trip in the last 12 months and 21% gone abroad in their car, underinflated tyres are likely to affect millions.

John Howe, Managing Director for UK and Ireland at Michelin, said, “Checking your car’s tyre pressures might seem like a meaningless task, but underinflation can have several significant effects. As well as multiple safety risks, underinflated tyres affect fuel consumption – and therefore cost. That’s even before the effect of tyre wear and the expense of purchasing new tyres is considered.

“A car normally averaging 40mpg would only manage 37.6mpg with tyres that are underinflated by 15psi. Even a smaller amount of underinflation of a few psi will reduce your MPG every mile that you drive. Annual CO2 emissions would also be increased by 170kg for a driver doing 10,000 miles per year.

“At Michelin, we recommend that drivers check their tyres at least once a month and ahead of every long journey. There are benefits to doing so. With many families and holidaymakers feeling the financial pressure this year, those hitting the road this summer may yet be able save that little bit more simply by checking their car’s tyre pressures.”

As well as increasing fuel consumption, underinflated tyres can carry several other risks:

  • Tyre fatigue: Driving on underinflated tyres reduces the tyre’s endurance capabilities leading to accidental damage and potential rapid deflation
  • Reduced handling characteristics: A vehicle’s steering is less precise with underinflated tyres. If a bend can be taken at 60mph with an inflation pressure of 29psi then this speed is reduced to 54mph at 15psi
  • Risk of aquaplaning: If tyre pressures are 30% below the recommended pressure, there is a sharp increase in the risk of aquaplaning
  • Reduced braking efficiency: Tests have demonstrated that braking distances from 56mph to 44mph are 40m at 29psi, but 45m at 15psi – in other words, 5m longer in the same conditions

John Howe continued, “Underinflation has several knock-on effects. Whilst keeping down costs is important, it is also a question of safety. Michelin designs its tyres to operate best at a specific tyre pressure – outside of that and all tyres, no matter the brand, start to lose their performance credentials. Tyre care should be top of the priorities list as drivers gear up for the summer.”

Despite half of drivers failing to keep to monthly tyre checks, 71% would be happy to spend more money on tyres if they last longer. This means drivers are willing to spend on tyres if they last longer, yet they are not currently being cost efficient with the tyres they already own.

To help with this, Michelin has provided its top five tips for tyre care in preparation for the summer holidays.

Michelin’s top five tips for tyre care

1. Check cold tyre inflation pressures at least once a month and ahead of a long journey

Michelin recommends that drivers should check their tyres at least once a month and ahead of every long car journey. Tyres are considered cold if they haven’t been used for two hours or have covered less than 2 miles at low speed. This is because warm or hot tyres can give inaccurate readings.

Follow the vehicle manufacturer’s tyre inflation pressure recommendation. This is typically found in the vehicle handbook, on a door pillar or fuel filler cap.

2. Check tyre tread depth is in line with local legislation

In the UK, the legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm. Like tyre pressure, tread depth should be checked at least once a month and ahead of every long journey.

Michelin tyres have tread wear indicators in the main grooves of the tread. Their position is indicated on the shoulder of the tyre by the presence of a Michelin Man figure. As soon as a tyre wears down to the level of the indicator, the tyres should be changed. A tread depth gauge or a UK 20-pence coin are alternative options for checking tyre tread depth. The rim of a 20-pence coin is 1.6mm so if a driver inserts this into the grooves of the tyre and cannot see the rim of the coin, then the tyre tread is still above the minimum.

Tread depth measurements should be taken at several points around the tyre.

3. Check for uneven wear and sidewall bulges

Uneven tyre wear is often an indication of under- or overinflation. If underinflated, the tyre tread will look rounded rather than flat as the load is transferred to the outside edges of the tyre. The opposite is true for overinflation – the central part of the tread will wear faster than the outer edges. Inflating to the manufacturer’s recommendations should help avoid this scenario.

Patchy tyre wear or wear on only one edge could indicate a problem with the car’s suspension, wheel alignment and/or camber geometry. It is best to consult a professional for this.

Sidewall bulges indicate the casing ply (forming part of the internal tyre structure) has been damaged accidently, often due to hitting a kerb or pothole. It’s crucial to have your tyres inspected if you find sidewall bulges as risk of a rapid deflation significantly increases.

4. Check your tyres for accidental damage or foreign objects

Checking tyres for damage and foreign objects (nails, screws, sharp rocks, etc.) should form part of a driver’s regular tyre checks. Once again to reduce the likelihood of a rapid deflation, it’s important to carry out checks regularly especially if the driver has driven over sharp objects on the road surface.

It’s important to note that accidental damage can also occur on the inside tyre edge and sidewall, in which case having a professional inspection is advisable.

5. Check that wheels are balanced and the alignment is correct at least once per year

As mentioned, unbalanced wheels or misalignment can result in uneven tyre wear and, therefore, an increased risk to safety, a reduction in the life of the tyre, and ultimately increased costs.

To ensure wheels are correctly balanced and aligned, drivers should have this checked professionally at least once a year.

For more tyre care advice from Michelin, visit: https://www.michelin.co.uk/auto/advice

1 thought on “Michelin urges drivers to check tyres ahead of the summer holidays after revealing half fail to check pressures regularly”

  1. Policing Through

    Tyres are not taught to new drivers. All they have to do is to repeat parrot fashion where the numbers are found at test time. Perhaps.

    No wonder successive generations of drivers are woefully ignorant about tyres and other safety equipment such as contaminated brake fluid.

    Unless and until the government introduces a proper syllabus and theory course covering this and much else, ignorance will continue through the generations.

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