As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, Michelin is urging motorists to complete essential safety checks before getting behind the wheel of cars that may have had very little use over the past number of months.
According to the tyre maker, being parked in one place for a significant period can affect handling, performance and safety, while drivers may also have neglected tyre maintenance during lockdown.
Even if vehicles have not been used, tyres will have lost pressure, and driving on underinflated tyres increases fuel consumption at the same time as compromising handling, grip, braking and durability, it says.
In addition, prolonged storage can create flat patches on the tyre, while being parked in oil or water for long periods — or on an object such as a stone — can also damage tyres. On top of that, minor existing damage to the tyre may have worsened during storage, and cracking and hardening may be an issue, Michelin adds.
As work and leisure mileage increases, the tyre maker has outlined four simple steps for drivers to follow before setting out.
Firstly, motorists are advised to set tyre pressures to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations, then visually check all tyres for bulges, cuts, excessive cracking or other damage or unusual signs.
Next, drivers should move the vehicle to expose the part of the tyre that has been in contact with the ground and carry out the same visual checks as flat patches can create internal weakness, which can lead to failure in use.
Next, Michelin advises checking tread depth. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm around the entire circumference of the tyre in a band making up 75 per cent of the tyre’s breadth.
Motorists are also advised to remember that tyres which have been in use for five years or more should continue to be inspected by a specialist at least annually.
Any tyres in service 10 years or more from the date of manufacture, including spare tyres, should be replaced as a precaution — even if they still appear serviceable and have not reached the legal wear limit.