After the recent Bahrain Grand Prix, won so well by Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull, there has been a lot of focus on the choice of tyres and how well they performed, or didn’t, in the local conditions.
A number of drivers had real problems, especially in practice where both Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa had some much publicised issues.
With tyre manufacturers often using motor sport to innovate in tyre technology I think it really shows that you really need to think about your choice of tyre, and that one tyre doesn’t fit all.
Unfortunately we don’t all have pits where a team of mechanics will change our tyres to those best fitting the conditions, but it’s common sense that in wet conditions it’s vital that your tyres have enough tread to give you the road holding you need.
Too often drivers either don’t monitor their tyres and rely only on reports on their condition when having a service or MOT, at which point they might have been driving on dangerous tyres for months.
Some tips for checking your tyres:
- Regularly check your tyre pressure (ideally at least once a month) – and check all tyres including the spare
- Check tyre pressure against the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended level (if you can’t find your vehicle handbook then it should also be on a plate which is usually located either inside the fuel filler flap or on the driver’s door sill)
- Recommended levels alter depending on the load on the car (e.g. a full load of passengers or luggage makes a difference to the pressure level). Check your handbook.
- Tyre pressure should be taken when tyres are cold, not after a long journey
- Use as pressure gauge which is known to be reliable and accurate (if the gauge isn’t working properly then it can make things worse!)
- Also give the tyre a visual inspection, look both for uneven wear (which could suggest tracking or balancing issues) and tyre damage (bulges, lumps or cuts) which could result in a blow out
- If you have any doubts call in the professionals and get someone qualified to check your tyres for you. Remember, your tyres are vital to your car’s road-holding, damaged tyres can be life-threatening
Finally, as an added incentive, a reminder that it’s illegal to drive on worn tyres. The maximum fine a court could impose for driving a vehicle with a defective tyre is £2,500 and three penalty points… that’s per tyre!