Life Motoring

Saturday 20 September 2014

How your life could be worth less than €2

That could be the difference between safe and lethal tyres

Published 25/07/2013 | 05:00

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The Continental tyre came out tops in all the tests over five budget brands.

THE most vivid picture I took away with me on Monday was that a €2 coin is nearly 50pc thicker than the minimum legal tyre tread depth.

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Which happens to be 1.6mm.

Which, at the risk of repetition, is a lot thinner than a €2 coin.

Picture that.

It is so little to have out there keeping you from harm.

But it appears lots of people are driving on even thinner treads.

The survey by Continental Tyres – 300 cars in a number of counties – found that one-in-six cars is running on tyres at or under the legal tread depth.

It was described as "shocking" but could equally be described as both a 'scandal' and a 'shame'.

In conjunction with Maxol outlets, the survey found:

Four in 10 cars had tyres that were 'dangerously inflated' – 10psi below recommended level.

One in six had tyres on or below the legal minimum tread depth of 1.6mm.

More than 50pc had incorrect pressure – which can affect handling, safety and fuel consumption.

Tom Dennigan is the new boss at Continental.

He said: "It is shocking to see so many cars are driving on dangerous and illegal tyres.

"We know that motorists have been cutting back, but they should not put their families' safety at risk."

Put simply, research has shown that if you are driving on tyres at the 1.6mm legal tread limit you will suffer a dangerous lack of control in cornering and seriously increased stopping distances on both dry and wet roads.

It is a cliche that tyres are your only contact with the road and it was only right that Mr Dennigan should say the industry has come up short on highlighting several critical issues.

There is, for example, a push on for the legal tread limit to be set at 3mm.

The tyre industry cites independent tests which show that below 3mm, tyre performance drops off sharply.

Public service and emergency vehicles in Europe have their tyres changed when tread depth hits 3mm.

Check

The advice is, of course, that drivers should regularly check their tyre pressures and overall condition.

But will they?

I asked Tom if anyone understood the new tyre labelling figures and letters.

His answer: "A very, very small number of people have a clue about what they mean. Your average consumer hasn't a clue."

It is up to the industry, safety organisations and government agencies to act.

We keep saying the same thing here, and each time makes it all the more clear: something needs to be done.

 

Our tyres are getting bigger

The most popular tyre size in Ireland is 205/55 R16 (25pc share). Popular cars with that size include the Audi A3, Ford Focus, VW Golf and Toyota Auris.

Rim sizes are getting bigger with 14in and 15in continuing to decline while 16in and 17in rims are increasing in popularity.

 

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