Are you one of the Irish motorists driving on dangerous ticking bomb tyres?
Survey finds tread worn to wire carcass
A 'scary' number of motorists are driving around on potentially lethal tyres, new research shows.
An analysis of tyres replaced at depots around the country show a 'woeful level of disregard' for safety regulations.
They were described as 'ticking bombs' by one expert because they could crumple and fail at any moment.
The frightening level of poor-tyre use followed an analysis of those that were replaced at a number of branches of Advance Pitstop.
The research was conducted as part of the Continental Tyre group's Vision Zero strategy which aims, in the long term, to reduce accidents through tyre technologies and automotive systems.
The group owns the Advance Pitstop and its chain of 30 outlets. Commenting on the findings, Continental's Tom Dennigan says: "It is really scary to think that these tyres were taken off vehicles that were driving on the roads."
He says they had the full range of faults you'd expect to find on tyres that have been neglected for some time.
The study discovered:
• Many had tread depths worn to below the legal minimum of 1.6mm.
• In some cases, tyres were so badly worn you could see the wire carcass.
• Many had lumps, bulges and holes as well as the wire carcass being visible.
• Some had uneven wear with one side worn to dangerous levels. That would have been due to incorrect balancing and tyre tracking.
Mr Dennigan adds: "I would describe tyres like these as ticking bombs.
"Nobody knows 'the when' or 'the where' that one of these could lead to a catastrophic failure."
Not alone could they spell disaster for the occupants of the car but potentially for other road users unlucky enough to meet them.
Justin Glynn, branch manager of the Advance Pitstop outlet in Dundrum, Co Dublin says: "I regularly see tyres like this on vehicles coming in to our depot and in many cases the owner is totally oblivious either to the condition of the tyres or to the potential impact they could have on the safety of their family who may even be in the vehicle with them in the depot."
Some of the problems were on the 'inside' rim of a wheel and not immediately visible.
He said: "Any reputable tyre dealer will provide a free tyre check to motorists and we would certainly encourage drivers to avail of this so as to have a trained tyre fitter check out your tyres on a regular basis".
New rules mean owners of illegally worn tyres face a fixed charge notice of €80 and up to four penalty points if convicted in court.
The regulations came into force in April.
According to Continental, the Garda figures on penalty points show enforcement of the new regulations has got off to a slow start.
Up until the end of August, just 308 people were issued with penalty points for tyre-related offences.
This compares with 82,783 notices for drivers holding a mobile phone, they say.
However, it should be remembered that the latter figure covers eight months while those for tyre offences only span May to August.
The Road Safety Authority has highlighted that defective tyres were a factor in 71 road deaths during a five-year period.
Mr Dennigan adds: “Going on the basis of our analysis of some of the ‘bad tyres’ that were replaced at depots across the country, drivers still are not getting that message.
“And until enforcement of the new tyre regulations is significantly ramped up by the gardai, tyres like the ones we have highlighted here will continue to be a serious problem”.
TIP ON HOW TO CHECK TREAD DEPTH
As well as checking for cuts, bumps or uneven wear there is a simple way to test the tread depth by using a one euro coin.
The gold band on the front face of the coin (encircling the large ‘1’ and map of Europe) is 3mm.
By inserting the coin into the centre grooves of the tyre, you will be able to see how much tread is left.
Safety organisations and most premium tyre manufacturers recommend you should change tyres when the tread depth goes below 3mm. Below that braking ability can be seriously compromised.
Michelin has recently caused furore, as revealed in Motors, over its claims that good quality tyres are safe down to 1.6mm but this is disputed by research and safety organisations.