During the summer holiday season, most drivers plan longer trips to far destinations. Nokian Tyres strongly advices that you check the car tyres and adjust your driving style for maximum safety and increased durability.
Although drivers are used to regularly servicing their cars by replacing oils, filters and other parts, they still pay very little attention to servicing their tyres. The three most commonly seen bad habits are extremely low tread depth, incorrect pressure and misuse of winter tyres in the summer. These cause serious safety hazards because a proper tyre is one of the most important car safety features.
In most European countries, the law states that summer tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6 millimetres. However, at this minimum, tyres are no longer safe. The risk is increased sharply when the tread depth falls below most tyre manufacturers’ recommendation of a minimum of four millimetres.
It is not uncommon for drivers to continue using winter tyres during the summer. However, because their softer rubber compound and tread are designed for winter weather only, their wet grip in the summer is nowhere near the necessary level of summer tyres. Tests indicate that even on wet roads, the braking distance of winter tyres is approximately 20% longer when compared to summer tyres. The softer rubber compound also makes them less stable than summer tyres, which may cause a heavily loaded car to sway during a sudden evasion.
The third important safety factor is tyre pressure. Drivers should continuously check the pressure at least once a month, especially during the hot summer weather. For a fully loaded car, the tyre pressure should be increased by 10-15% from normal pressure level. When checking the pressure, drivers should ensure that the tyres are cold and avoid checking immediately after driving.
Increasing tyre life will not cost anything
Drivers can easily extend the durability of their tyres by adjusting their driving style. It is important to understand that people’s driving habits have largely remained the same as 10 or 15 years ago, but the technologies have changed a lot since then.
“Today, even small city cars have a lot of power. Traction control systems and other similar functions have become more common. Drivers today rely even more on these systems, which increases the stress on the tyres that is caused by driving. Cornering speeds may increase, for example“, explains Nokian Tyres’ Technical Customer Service Manager Matti Morri.
Besides calm driving, people should also regularly rotate the tyres from the front to the rear axle. On average, front wheels wear twice as quickly as those on the rear axle. Therefore, it is advised to change them every 8.000 kilometres. And again, the correct pressure in each tyre is crucial. It is important to understand that the inflation pressure recommended by the car manufacturers usually emphasises driving comfort. However, increasing tyre pressure brings about several benefits.
"When you increase the pressure above the car manufacturer’s recommendation, the tyre becomes harder and less flexible. The less flexible a tyre is, the less heat its structure generates. This allows it to last longer. There is no clear rule for optimal overpressure; it is very specific to the situation and the vehicle. However, increasing the pressure by some 0.2 bar will not have any negative effects, and it will give several benefits,” Morri explains.
Along with extending the service life, overpressure improves stability and helps reduce rolling resistance of the tyre, which results in fuel savings. The only downside is a slight loss of driving comfort. Therefore, drivers should consider overinflating their tyres slightly.
Regardless, drivers need to be aware that each tyre will eventually wear down. With modern tyres, service is a necessary casualty when aiming for reduced fuel consumption and increased safety. Premium tyres with low rolling resistance can save over half a litre of fuel per one hundred kilometres and proper wet grip can sharply increase safety.
Key recommendations for drivers
Drive calmly. Avoid aggressive acceleration, braking and cornering.
Rotate your tyres from the front to the back and from the back to the front every 8,000 kilometres.
Check your tyre pressure once per month. When heading out for a longer trip or driving with a full load, increase the pressure according to the instructions. During normal driving, maintaining slight overpressure will prolong the life of your tyres and reduce fuel consumption.
Remember to check your spare tyre pressures as well!! If you don’t have a spare tyre, train yourself beforehand to see how the repairing kit works.
Check the condition and tread depth of your tyres; safe driving requires a tread depth of at least 4 mm.
Do not load heavy items in the roof box, as they will affect the car’s centre of gravity.