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20 Pence Tyre Checks

 Published 3rd July 2023
Driver Guides 

If you're considering leasing a car it's unlikely you've been paying much attention to eBay during your search. If you had, you may have come across the results of a new survey commissioned to look into some important safety issues.

While it won't directly affect your leasing choices it still contains interesting information, like the fact 40% of people surveyed don't know how to check their tyres have sufficient tread depth.

We've said it before and we'll say it again. Your tyres are the only thing keeping you in contact with the road and it's absolutely vital for your safety, and the safety of other road users that they are up to the job.

The recent eBay survey has now revealed just how little confidence some people have when it comes to routine maintenance checks.

When you take a driving test, learners are asked two vehicle safety questions, these can include how to check tyre tread depth, oil, headlights and tail lights, brake lights, brake pads, engine coolant and more. Despite being part of the test these days, more than a third (33%) of UK drivers don't feel confident carrying out these basic checks.

56% of UK drivers don't know how to jump-start a car. Around two thirds (66%) of drivers would also struggle to change a headlight or rear bulb, and exactly 50% admit they would probably struggle to change a wiper blade. Even relatively simple maintenance tasks seemed to be a problem for a large number of drivers with 34% unsure of how to check their car's oil level.

The survey also showed more than half of motorists (66%) were unaware of how to change a wheel, an important skill if a car gets a puncture and the spare wheel is required.

More worrying is that around half (53%) of drivers in the 18–34 age group don't actually know how to check that their tyre tread is within the legal limit. It's not just younger drivers either. Older generations also lack confidence with this straightforward but important safety check, with more than a third revealing the same knowledge gap.

Dr Tony Tong, Head of Automotive at eBay UK said: “Carrying out basic car checks and repairs can seem daunting but can often be simple and more cost-effective than going to a garage. Boosting your knowledge when it comes to car checks will not only save you time, but can also improve safety, especially before long journeys or during colder months.”

Even if you lease your car with a maintenance package these are still important checks that you should be carrying out regularly. Luckily, there is a bright side revealed in the survey. More than 60% acknowledge the shortcomings in their confidence and would want to gain more knowledge.

When it comes to tyres, every car, van, and light commercial vehicle (LCV) legally requires a minimum depth of 1.6mm

This should be across the central three-quarters of the tyre and around the entire circumference, although most vehicle manufacturers suggest replacing the tyres when they reach 3mm of tread.

Drivers caught with illegal tyres risk being hit with a £2,500 fine and three penalty points per tyre. As well as the financial risk, there's a big safety risk that comes with badly worn tyres. According to Department for Transport records, in 2021, illegal, defective, or under-inflated tyres caused 491 casualties and 12 deaths in the UK.

It's a little concerning to know the number of drivers who aren't sure how to check tyre tread depth as it's one of the most important safety checks you should be making. Low tyre tread depth increases stopping distances and at worst, could result in a serious accident.

Checking tyre tread depth is so easy there really isn't an excuse. Simply take a 20p coin and insert it into the grooves – if you can see the outer band on the coin, you need new tyres.

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