A car warranty covers specified electrical and mechanical components in your car, along with the cost of labour for repairs and replacements. Although they are not covered, there are some simple steps you can take to extend the life of your tyres and to help you keep this motoring costs to a minimum.
What does the law say?
In the UK, tyres on cars must have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm. If you carry a spare wheel or tyre, it must also comply with this law. In addition, your tyres must be:
- compatible with the others on the vehicle
- the same size on each axle
- inflated to the right pressure
- free of lumps and bulges
- free of any cuts or tears greater than 25mm or 10% of its width
- free from exposure of any part of the cord or ply
Check your tyres
A few minutes spent checking and maintaining your tyres ensures you are within the law, keeps you safe, and extends their life.
Treads below the legal limit attract three penalty points and a £2,500 fine for each substandard tyre. That means having four substandard tyres can lead to a driving ban and a fine of £10,000.
And although the law specifies 1.6mm as the minimum tread depth, safety experts recommend that you change your tyres once they reach 3mm of tread to help ensure you have sufficient grip on the roads.
Some other steps you can take are:
- Make a visual inspection, checking for cuts, bulges and other damage, including stones or nails in the tread.
- At least once a month, check the pressure and adjust as required in accordance with the handbook and the load you are carrying. If the pressure is too low, your car will be slower and use more fuel. Should it be too high, the centre of the tyres will wear out more quickly.
- Check the valve. Dust, dirt and wear and tear can cause slow leakage from the valve leading to a loss of tyre pressure. When you change the tyres, change the valves as well
- Always check your tyres before an MOT and replace as necessary.
What tyre goes where?
So long as you keep within the law, there is no requirement to stick to the brand of tyre originally on your car. It is recommended that you fit tyres at least of the same speed rating – the highest speed you can drive carrying a full load.
Unless your handbook specifies otherwise, put the best or newest tyres on the back. This helps steering and control in difficult situations.
Do I need a spare?
There is no legal requirement in the UK to carry a spare wheel and many new cars have either a puncture repair kit and inflator or a light temporary wheel with a tread of only 3mm. This is designed to take you to the nearest repair station and you should stick to a maximum speed of 50mph when driving on it.
If you do carry a spare wheel, it must comply with the law, and don’t forget that you’ll also need all the equipment required to change the wheel.
To help ensure you’re able to afford new tyres as and when you need them, it’s a good idea to set aside some money in your budget for this purpose, and for other vehicle repairs that aren’t covered by your warranty.