Check Your Tyres to Avoid MOT Failures
If your car is three years old or more, it will need to undergo an annual MOT. Many of us are unfamiliar with the specifics of the test and are perhaps not confident with mechanics, so we tend to cross our fingers and hope for the best. There are some areas, however, where anyone can avoid the expense of failing the MOT and then paying for a second test.
Chief among these could be failures due to faulty tyres. Figures just released show that more than 2.2 million cars that underwent an MOT in 2013 failed because of tyre faults that rendered them illegal or unsafe.
The figures were obtained by TyreSafe, a safety organisation, which used Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation to obtain the data. The high incidence of MOT failures due to faulty tyres would suggest that too many drivers are not checking their tyres regularly and are instead leaving it to the MOT examiners to find out whether their tyres are adequate or not.
Stuart Jackson, Tyresafe's chairman, said that the figures were astonishing. He went on to say that it was unbelievable that such a large number of UK motorists will see their cars failing the MOT because they have unsafe or even illegal tyres. He argued that a driver's safety on any road is completely dependent on the state of his or her tyres, so it is therefore vital that the tyres are checked at regular intervals throughout the year, and not just before the car is taken for its MOT. Tyres are also one of the simplest items on any vehicle to check, and therefore motorists really have no excuse for the number of MOT failures due to poor tyres.
As we move into the autumn months and with winter looming, the importance of having adequate tyres becomes ever more pressing. The arrival of the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo in mid-October will bring heavy rain and strong winds — factors that will make motoring even more dangerous. Mr Jackson added that the UK is just coming into the most dangerous time of the year for motoring, when our roads can get extremely wet and slippery. It is therefore vital that all tyres are kept in the best condition possible.
Driving on bald or damaged tyres can result in a variety of dangers, including a sudden loss of traction, aquaplaning, skidding and much longer stopping distances. All of these dangers can be avoided by carrying out simple safety checks. You can get a cheap tyre-tread depth gauge from any motor accessories shop. This will allow you to check that all of your tyres have tread above the 1.6mm minimum. It might be useful to know, however, that even a car with a legal tread depth of 1.6mm will take 71% longer to stop than a car whose tyres have a full 8mm tread depth. Most tyre manufacturers recommend changing tyres when they reach 3mm or at least 2mm.
You should also use the air machine at the garage to check that your tyres are properly inflated. Badly inflated tyres can be dangerous and under-inflated tyres will increase fuel consumption. Regular checks will uncover problems such as slow punctures, which could leave you stranded if undetected.
You should also look for bulges, gouges and any other damage. All of these could be signs of serious damage that could lead to a blowout and real danger of an accident. Another tip is never to fit different types of tyres on the same axle and never have newer tyres on the front of your car. This can cause the rear end to slip sideways under heavy braking.
All of these tests are simple, but our failure to carry them out is perhaps a sign of a different problem. Cars have recently become much more reliable and economical, but they have also got much more complex. Manufacturers have actively discouraged home maintenance, and many drivers have perhaps therefore become completely dependent on the dealer to carry out checks, even on their tyres.