More than six out of 10 European motorists are driving on under-inflated tyres and almost 20 per cent have at least one tyre worn down below the EU legal minimum tread depth, a survey by Bridgestone has found.
These results, based on tyre safety checks conducted on 46,000 vehicles in 11 EU countries by Bridgestone during 2011, show that too many motorists are still not taking proper care of their tyres. This conclusion is particularly alarming in summer time, as millions of families in Europe set off in heavily-loaded cars for their longest journey of the year.
As Gert Meylemans, Senior Manager, European Communications Office, Bridgestone Europe, says: “Tyre care is vital for safety, greener motoring and economy. As the summer holiday period approaches, Bridgestone again warns drivers to check their tyre condition and inflation pressure before they leave.”
Under-inflation is not only a safety risk…
While most drivers appreciate the dangers of excessive tread wear, far fewer appear to understand that tyres lose pressure naturally over time, like a balloon, and need to be inflated regularly. Failure to do this puts their safety at risk: firstly by reducing handling control and causing vehicle drift; secondly by reducing tyre durability, due to excessive shear stress in the tyre shoulder and heat build-up from sidewall bending. Motorists with severely under-inflated tyres face the threat of tyre failure due to these factors.
The one in five motorists driving on excessively worn tyre treads are taking even bigger risks, and threatening the safety of other road users. These drivers face a general loss of road grip and risk hydroplaning at much lower speeds than normal.
… it’s also costly
Under-inflation also hits motorists’ pockets and the environment. Not only does it accelerate tyre wear and reduce mileage, low inflation pressure also increases tyre rolling resistance, which in turn increases vehicle fuel consumption and emissions.
Based on the results of the same 2011 tyre survey, Bridgestone Europe’s R&D centre in Italy calculates that under-inflated tyres waste 3.1 billion litres of fuel every year, costing around € 5 billion at the pump. This means that under-inflated tyres cause an additional 7.4 million tons of CO2 emissions – equivalent to an extra 2.7 g/km of CO2 output for every car on Europe’s roads.
So the Bridgestone message is clear: if you’re driving away on vacation this year, make sure you check the condition of your tyres before you leave. For the good of your safety, your budget, and the environment! Just follow these simple Bridgestone holiday tips:
1. Check your tyre pressure – You’ll find the recommended levels inside the fuel filler cap, in the driver’s door and in the vehicle owner’s manual. Remember to inflate when tyres are cold and that a car loaded with passengers and baggage needs higher pressure, as usually indicated in the owner’s manual.
2. Check your tyre tread depths – Bridgestone recommends at least 3mm depth. If in doubt, and if you see any signs of damage or uneven wear across the tread pattern, visit your tyre dealer immediately.
3. If you’re towing a caravan, don’t forget to check its tyres too – especially if you only use the caravan occasionally. Caravan tyres are designed for higher load capacity and greater resistance to lateral forces, in order to improve stability in the wind. So don’t ever try to fit car tyres on your caravan! And remember that caravan tyres should be changed on average every 10 years, even if they don’t look worn. One last tip: load your caravan carefully. Do not overload the rear but spread the load evenly to reduce the risk of zig-zag and instability. An overloaded caravan is an offence, and it’s dangerous too.