Get prepared for the pressure of Christmas

Families can reduce their chances of being stranded by the roadside or being involved in a serious accident over the Christmas holiday period by making sure their car tyres are correctly inflated before they set off. With an increased vehicle weight from extra passengers, luggage and presents being transported to friends and relatives, many vehicles need to have their tyres inflated to a higher pressure to stay safe.

Drivers who fail to make these checks and adjustments significantly increase their likelihood of experiencing a dangerous sudden rapid deflation

“During the holiday period too many motorists suffer misery from tyre related breakdowns because they haven’t made adequate checks before setting off,” explains Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. “Very often the cars are heavily loaded with extra passengers, luggage and presents and then head off on long, high-speed, motorway journeys. It is essential when carrying extra weight that tyre pressures are checked and adjusted in line with the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. Motorists who fail to make these adjustments are much more likely to spend some of their Christmas break stranded at the roadside because of a tyre failure”.

Many vehicle manufacturers specify that tyre pressures should be increased when the car is fully laden with passengers and luggage. If the pressures are not adjusted accordingly and the tyres run under-inflated, excessive heats builds up inside the tyre. This significantly increases the risk of a sudden tyre deflation which can have catastrophic effects, particularly at high speeds on motorways and main roads. In 2008, 34 motorists died on the UK’s roads as a result of an accident where illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres were a contributory factor.

A recent survey by one TyreSafe member, which checked the tyre pressures of more than 4,500 cars, found that an alarming 36 percent of these vehicles had either dangerous or very dangerous pressure levels in their tyres and a startling six percent were driving on tyres with punctures. With the additional loads being carried over the holiday period, unless drivers check and adjust their tyre pressures, even more are likely to fall into these dangerous categories. “Checking and correcting tyre pressures is a quick and simple job,” adds Jackson. “Taking just a few minutes before setting off on your festive journeys could stop you from ruining your Christmas.

Details of the vehicle manufacturers recommended pressures can be found either in the vehicle handbook, inside the fuel filler cap or on the driver’s door sill. TyreSafe’s tips for checking tyre pressures:

  • Check your tyre pressures at least once a month or before a long journey.

  • Tyre pressure should be checked against the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended level. This can be found in the vehicle handbook and on a plate which is often located inside the fuel filler flap or on the driver’s door sill.

  • Check the pressure when tyres are cold (i.e. when you have travelled less than two miles).

  • If you are carrying a full load of passengers or luggage or will be towing a trailer or caravan, tyre pressures should be increased in line with the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. Details can be found in the handbook.

  • Ensure a reliable and accurate pressure gauge is used.

  • Check the pressure in all four tyres not forgetting to check the spare tyre as well.

While checking pressures, give the rest of the tyre a visual inspection. Remove any stones and other objects embedded in the tread. Look out for any bulges, lumps or cuts. If you are unsure on any aspect of tyre pressure or tyre condition take your vehicle to an approved fitting centre and speak to the experts.

Source: TyreSafe 2011