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The Importance of Tyre Pressure for Safe Driving

Safety - 27 February 2019

Safety for yourself and others should be your primary concern when setting out on any journey. A report from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has revealed that vehicle factors played a role in 1 in 8 fatal collisions in the period 2008 to 2012. Of these fatal collisions, defective tyres were the most significant factor, representing almost two thirds (65.1%) of all vehicle factors identified. 

Since then this percentage has increased. Many road users are not aware of what

an important role tyre pressure plays in ensuring their safety while travelling. You think it’s a small incidental part of car maintenance, and then – BANG!You’re hit with an expense you didn’t bargain for. Simply put, the pressure in your tyres provides the support – or lack of it – for the full load of your vehicle on the road.

A report from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) revealed that vehicle factors played a major part in 1 in 8 fatal collisions during the period 2008 to 2012. Of those deadly collisions, defective tyres were the most significant factor, representing almost two thirds (64.1%) of all vehicle factors identified. Since then, rising fuel costs have seen more and more road users forgoing regular car maintenance – most critically of all on their tyres where correct pressure is the key component in keeping you safe under the majority of road conditions.    

Correct air pressure in a tyre helps to distribute the weight of your vehicle evenly across the tyre’s tread pattern, so that the tyre – and the vehicle itself – is at its most stable. When a tyre is over- or under-inflated, it loses stability, negatively affecting handling, cornering and stopping. Eventually the tyre will also start to wear unevenly and … you’re heading for trouble. 

How to handle the pressure

When you maintain proper tyre pressure, you ensure that you’ll get more life out of your tyres. On the other hand, improper tyre inflation may result in rapid or irregular wear. This can cause significant internal and external tyre damage that can lead to sudden and catastrophic tyre failure. It can also lead to serious injury to driver, passengers and others.

How often should you check your tyre pressure? Ideally, you should check it every two weeks; however, a good rule of thumb is to do it every time you fill up with fuel or at least once a month. Tyres lose approximately one pound per square inch (PSI) per month with normal use.

Always remember to check your tyres when they are cold, first thing in the morning of at least three hours after you were last on the road. 

For each car and make, tyre pressure will vary. Often, so does front and rear pressure. To find the correct air pressure for your tyres, check the information on the inside driver’s side panel of your car, your owner’s manual, the inside of your glove compartment door or the inside of your petrol lid.

Always use a reliable air pressure gauge – either by yourself or by a trained and practiced garage attendant.

Always remember to check your spare tyre’s pressure too and make sure all your tyre valves have caps and replace any missing ones immediately. This prevents dust and other particles entering your valves and inner tyres and compromising your air pressure. If you have any doubts or queries about this, don’t hesitate to visit your nearest Supa Quick outlet immediately.

Over-inflation vs. under-under-inflation – why both are potentially problematic

Both over- and under-inflation reduce optimum tyre-to-road contact and shorten tyre life.  

Over-inflation, like under-loading, reduces the cushioning power of your tyres. They are then more susceptible to impact, penetrations and abrasions as well as reduced road-tyre contact. This negatively affects the handling characteristics of the vehicle and leads to excessive centre tread wear.

Under-inflation, like overloading, causes excessive flexing of the tyres’ sidewalls, which leads to overheating, and, ultimately, casing break-up and tread separation. Also, the reduced tyre-road contact leads to shoulder wear and badly affects vehicle handling. And never forget, under-inflation is the major cause of tyre blowouts!

Your vehicle manufacturers recommended Pound Per Square Inch (PSI) is intended to enhance your:

  • Ride comfort, safety and performance
  • Load capacity
  • Traction and wear
  • Overall fuel economy 

Tyre pressure impacts on vehicle performance – and your passenger’s safety

Maintaining the correct tyre  pressure  can actually increase the lifespan of your tyres. Even if your tyres are under-inflated by just 0.5 to 1 bar, this can decrease the lifespan by as much as 25%.

Also, having your tyres even slightly under-inflated has the potential of increasing your fuel consumption by more than 5%.

Under-inflated tyres hazardously increase your stopping distanceat normal speeds by more than 8 metres. This figure increases with heavier vehicles and the dangers are compounded when the weather is windy or wet.

Under-inflation is a leading cause of tyre failure. This is because more friction is created if more of the tyre’s surface is touching the road. This friction can lead to overheating, premature wear and tear, tread separation, and – most alarmingly – total tyre blowouts!

The centre tread on over-inflated tyres tends to wear out faster. The ‘tippy toe’ qualities of an over-inflated tyre make it unsafe in cornering and because the tyre is stiffer and more rigid, it is more prone to damage from hitting potholes or striking curbs. Overall of course, over-inflation reduces tyre lifespan too, costing you more in the long run due to excessive wear and tear.

Don’t put yourself under pressure – keep your tyres in check with the professionals

On all issues, including the more sophisticated aspects of tyre pressure such as cars fitted with Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), the use of nitrogen as an alternative to air in your tyres or run-flat tyres like Bridgestone DriveGuard, consult the leading experts in tyre technology. Supa Quick are standing by to assist you with every single tyre pressure issue you may have.

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