People often put off getting their tyres replaced because of the cost of new tyres and the hassle of getting them replaced. But what most people don’t quite realise is just how dangerous worn tyres can be – in fact, they’re an accident waiting to happen. Not only have worn tyres been linked to hundreds of crashes every year, but having worn tyres also makes it very difficult to claim insurance after an accident. Let’s have a look into this.
Hundreds of crashes are linked to worn tires every year, many of them fatal
The Motor Trade Association says “there has been an alarming increase in fatal accidents involving vehicle factors such as bald tyres.
MTA has analysed NZ Transport Agency crash data which it claims shows the percentage of fatal accidents involving vehicle factors has tripled over the past five years. Advocacy manager Greig Epps said the trend was undeniable.
In the five-year period to 2018, the percentage of fatal crashes involving some sort of vehicle factor rose from 5 per cent of all fatal crashes to 15 per cent.” Source: stuff.co.nz/business
Based on Transport Agency statistics published in 2018, worn tyres were directly responsible for 464 crashes, some of which resulted in minor and serious injuries. Not only this but over a three year period, worn tyres have been implicated in 32 fatal accidents.
Worn tyres affect a vehicle’s handling and responsiveness, this is amplified in wet conditions where worn tyres can increase the risk of something called aquaplaning.
Have you ever been driving along on a wet day and suddenly your tyres lose grip with the road and you lose control of your car for a split second? If so, then you’ve likely experienced aquaplaning firsthand. Aquaplaning happens on wet roads and occurs when a vehicle’s tyres lose traction with the road, making it impossible to steer or brake.
One cause of aquaplaning is a lack of tyre tread, as the grooves in the tyres aren’t able to clear enough surface water for the tyres to maintain a grip on the road. What you’ve experienced when driving on a wet road is likely a minor occurrence of aquaplaning that gave you a bit of fright, but before you could worry too much, your tyres were gripping the road again. Unfortunately, for some people, the consequences of aquaplaning are much worse, resulting in complete loss of control and ultimately, a car crash.
When you drive through 1mm of water, what portion of your tyre is in contact with the road?
Did you know that your tyres only have the equivalent of a palm print size area touching the road at any one time? That is not a lot of surface to slow the weight of your car. Which is why it’s imperative your tyres have sufficient tread. In an emergency, you need to know that you can rely on your brakes to slow the car and your tyres to retain the grip needed to control your stop.
This diagram prepared by the NZTA shows just how dangerous worn tyres can be, even at the minimum tread. Source: NZTA, nzta.govt.nz
The NZTA says “checking your tyre tread depth is easy and only takes a few minutes. You can use a tyre tread depth checker/gauge yourself or go to a local garage and get them to check it for you.”
See the diagram below to see how to do this yourself. You can also insert a match head into the area, and if the read bit is not covered by the tread your tyres are not compliant.
Is Your Car Still Insured If Your Tyres Don't Meet WOF Standards?
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think too much about your car insurance until you need to use it. But did you know that if you make an insurance claim after an accident your insurance company can actually decline your claim if your tyres don’t meet the minimum tread depth requirements in NZ? That’s right – even if you have a valid WOF, your insurer can still refuse to pay out if your tyres are deemed to be the cause of the accident.
So what does this mean for you? Well, it’s simple: make sure that your tyres are always in good condition and meet the legal requirements, or not only will you be putting yourself and others in dangerous situations on the road, but if the unthinkable does happen, you’ll likely be left without any insurance money.
Perform Routine Tyre Checks - It’s Quick and Easy!
Did you know you can perform routine tyre checks yourself? It’s a very simple process. Tyre tread isn’t the only thing to watch out for when it comes to tyre safety – it’s important to check your tyre pressure too!
Checking your tyre pressure on a monthly basis (at least!) is one of the simplest and most effective ways to extend the life of your tyres. It can also improve your fuel economy and make your vehicle safer to drive. The best part is it’s free and you can do it yourself quickly, next time you’re filling up with petrol. Petrol stations have free air filling machines for you to use, just remember to set the pressure to the correct level for your tyres, the correct tyre pressure can differ between the front and rear wheels of your vehicle. You’ll find the recommended settings in your car’s owner’s manual, or on the inside of the driver’s door. With just a little bit of regular care, you can help keep your tyres in good condition and improve the safety of yourself and others on the road.
While doing your regular tyre pressure check, take a look at each tyre for visual signs of wear. Observe the tread depth – is the tread less than that of a match-head? If yes, then it’s time to get your tyres replaced. Additionally, if you notice uneven wear, it may indicate poor wheel alignment. If you’re unsure about the safety of your tyres and want a second opinion, or are after a tyre replacement, a local car mechanic will be able to assist you. They will be able to assess whether your tyres are roadworthy and replace them if necessary. If you’re in the Hamilton area, Arnel Service Centre is a great Hamilton mechanic with a friendly team that can assist you with all your tyre needs.
Choose Safety, Choose To Maintain Great Tyres
As we’ve found out, worn tyres are an avoidable death trap, so it’s important that you are checking your tyres regularly or getting them checked at a local car mechanic. Taking a little extra time out of your day to do this could not only save your life and other lives on the road, but it will also save you a whole lot of money if you find yourself trying to claim insurance after an accident.
So don’t wait until it’s too late – make sure that your vehicle is safe by calling Arnel Service Centre, your local Hamilton mechanic, for a tyre check today.