In the build-up to this year’s annual Tyre Safety Month campaign in October, TyreSafe, which promotes the initiative, says research suggested that as many as 57% of car and van tyres on the roads were being driven below recommended inflation pressures, increasing vehicles’ fuel consumption and the risk of being involved in an incident.
As a result, the question the tyre safety charity is posing to the country’s drivers during Tyre Safety Month is: Are you having a Good or Bad Air Day?
The chances are that most motorists are having a ‘bad air day’ without even knowing it, especially as the research suggested that a shocking 35% of tyres were being driven at least 8psi below the vehicle manufacturers’ recommendation. At that level of under-inflation, tyres were not only more vulnerable to damage and wear more quickly but they also made the vehicle more difficult to control.
In fact, when pressures are 7psi below the recommended setting, they can halve the amount of tyre in contact with the road, according to TyreSafe. That, it says, can be especially dangerous in the wet as the chances of aquaplaning are significantly increased.
TyreSafe chairman Stuart Jackson said: “The sheer number of tyres being driven below recommended pressures demonstrates a concerning lack of appreciation among drivers of the risks and costs this brings with it. It’s the most common tyre defect and seemingly taken lightly but drivers should remember that it brings with it potentially serious consequences. Regular tyre checks can reduce your chances of an incident on the road and ensure you have a good air day every day.”
Under-inflated tyres affect handling and grip, potentially causing irregular or unpredictable vehicle behaviour. They are also much more likely to suffer from a dangerous sudden rapid deflation, especially on high-speed motorway journeys.
Under-inflated tyres also require a bigger force to make them turn, so vehicles use more fuel and additionally, tyres not set to their correct pressure wear out more quickly.
Ensuring tyres are at their optimum pressure delivers fleet operating cost savings as a result of lower fuel bills and longer tyre life. Further spin-off benefits include increased safety and reduced CO2 emissions.
TyreSafe recommends that a vehicle’s tyre pressures are checked at least every month and before long journeys, and they are likely to need adjustment when carrying a full load.