PENNY-PINCHING Irish motorists are throwing caution to the winds when it comes to their tyres. A new survey shows one sixth of drivers are risking their, and other road users, safety by running on tyres that are at or below the minimum legal tread depth.
The survey, conducted by Continental Tyres in conjunction with fuel retailer Maxol, comes at a time when a consumer survey in the UK shows that almost 50 per cent of the driving public do not know, or seem to care, what is the minimum legal tread depth.
The Irish survey shows that 16.7 per cent of motorists were driving on a tyre at or below the legal tread depth of 1.6mm. Independent tests have shown that cars driving on the 1.6mm limit demonstrate a dangerous lack of control in cornering and greatly increased stopping distances on both wet and dry roads.
Another shocking statistic discovered in the survey is that many motorists do not even check the pressure in their tyres – the vital part of the vehicle in contact with the road. Random checks show that 53 per cent of cars were found to be on tyres with incorrect tyre pressure. In the majority of cases they were under-inflated and 41 per cent of cars were found to be dangerously over-inflated even though the correct pressure information is printed on the vehicle (on the door frame) and in the car manual. Incorrect tyre pressure can affect handling and fuel economy and ride comfort.
Continental Tyres and other tyre manufacturers recommend the optimum time to replace tyres is when they reach 3mm tread depth, as independent tests have shown that once the tread depth goes below this level, performance drops sharply. Public Service and emergency and police vehicles across Europe have their tyres changed once the 3mm level is reached.
Tom Dennigan of Continental Tyres said motorists should not gamble with their family's safety. "We know that in the current economic climate, motorists have been cutting back on their motoring expenses and some may have been tempted to push their tyres to the limit. As your only contact with the road, your tyre is critical to your car's overall performance."