Every year, on average around 170 motorists are killed or seriously injured due to incidents caused by tyre-related defects. However, one-in-five drivers have never checked their tyres’ tread, according to campaign group TyreSafe.
With October designated Tyre Safety Month, TyreSafe is not only highlighting that maintenance reduces the risk of an incident, but it also can save money. Driving a vehicle with underinflated tyres increases fuel consumption and wear.
Its research shows as many as 57% of tyres driven on Britain’s roads are below the recommended settings, equating to a potential £1billion wasted on fuel each year. With at-work drivers often the highest mileage sector, the potential for unnecessary fuel spend through under inflation is massive.
In its Tyre Management Guide, the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) points out that for every 10 per cent decrease in tyre pressure, fuel consumption increases by two per cent. So, if five tyres are running two per cent under-inflated that equates to a 10 per cent increase in fuel consumption across those vehicles. Add to which if a tyre is under-inflated by 20 per cent it will wear 25 per cent quicker, it says.
Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe Chair, adds: “The importance of tyre safety is often overlooked but the risks are real, so Tyre Safety Month is the ideal time for motorists to get into the habit of checking their tyres at least once a month and before long journeys. In addition to safety, with money likely to become increasingly tighter for many in 2021, properly maintaining tyres will help keep motoring costs down. Tyre maintenance has never been more important.”
Such is the importance of the issue, FORS also recommends that fleets appoint a ‘tyre champion’, who is accountable for tyre management and maintenance, who ensures the right tyres are being fitted to vehicles, records problems to identify persistent damage trends, creates and runs a maintenance schedule and ensures drivers are trained in checking their vehicles.
Training drivers is important because it is not always possible to check every tyre on your fleet, and so there should be stipulations in driver policy documents that ensures employees take on some of the responsibility for their vehicles’ tyres themselves. In order to improve safety and reduce fuel consumption, TyreSafe recommends drivers of all vehicles should regularly check three main areas.
1. Tyre pressure
Use an accurate tyre pressure gauge to check tyres’ air pressure is at the recommended settings. Check the vehicles owner’s handbook or fuel filler cap.
Lumps or bulges in a tyre may indicate internal damage and increase the risk of a catastrophic failure. If these, or cuts and cracks, are found while checking a tyre, the tyre may need replacing and professional advice should be sought.
Tread depth should be checked with an accurate gauge to ensure it is above the minimum legal limit of 1.6mm (for cars, and vans below 3.5 tonnes) and 1mm for heavier vehicles. If you don’t have an accurate tread depth gauge, a 20p can be used as a guide to how close your tread is to the limit.
While the link between tyres, safety and economy are well proven, with the increase in the number of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road, there are a number of new issues that fleets need to be aware of.
According to a study by Goodyear in 2018, EVs and PHEVs can wear regular tyres 30 per cent faster than a normal car. That’s due to a number of factors, with the two main ones being the extra weight of EVs and the increase in torque produced by their motors.
Unlike vehicles with traditional combustion engines, electric vehicles immediately offer their maximum torque which leads to increased wear. Nokian Tyres recommends rotating EV tyres from front to rear every 3,000 miles to ensure one set (usually the fronts with EVs) are not being worked far harder than the other set. Nokian claims this can prolong their life up to 50%.
All tyres have a rating for how efficient they are, and the worse the rating, the less efficient the car will be. An EV tyre is designed with lower rolling resistance so it requires less energy to rotate and so consumes the least energy: its harder compounds typically reduce rolling resistance as 90 percent of energy loss is due to the constant changing of shape as a tyre rotates.
However, hard compounds do have the negative effect of reducing available grip, so getting the balance right between grip and rolling resistance is important. So it is important to choose specialist EV tyres that are designed to withstand the weight of EVs and also have lower rolling resistance.
A tyre which has 10% less rolling resistance may not have a huge impact on overall the fuel economy of a traditional internal combustion-engine vehicle, but the extra effort required to move an EV will have a noticeably detrimental effect on battery life, and consequently, range.
These tips apply to tyres for all vehicles, whatever their powertrain, but due to the particular demands of EVs and PHEVs, they are especially pertinent.
Monitor tyre wear regularly
The new types of vehicle will mean new wear rates and differing tyre conditions: make sure drivers are checking the condition of their tyres regularly to see what’s happening. It’s also important to keep an eye on tread depth. The heavier weight of EVs could mean that worn tread may make them more susceptible to loss of control in wet weather.
Get the pressure right
Range, grip and wear on electric vehicles are all adversely affected by underinflated tyres, make regular checks to ensure all tyres are running at the correct pressure.
Check for proper wheel balancing
Evenly distributing the heavier weight of an EV over all four tyres will ensure wear is evenly spread too. It will also improve the ride quality.
Ensure wheels are aligned
Proper wheel alignment improves efficiency, performance, wear, handling and manoeuvrability. Tyres that are not aligned properly will wear quicker.
Rotate your tyres
While relevant for all vehicles, this especially pertinent for EVs, because they will work the front tyres much harder than the rears due to the extra weight of the car and the increased torque. Swap tyres regularly for more even wear rates.
Allstar ServicePoint allows fleets to manage their tyre replacement and repair quickly and easily.
Users of ServicePoint are able to access an extensive nationwide network of tyre specialists, with vehicles booked in for work via our online portal without the need for a trade account.
National Tyres & Autocare, Allstar’s preferred tyre specialists, have 235 fitting centres in our network so all your tyre repairs and replacements can go through ServicePoint.