It is easy to forget that the only points of contact that a car has with the roads are four small footprints of rubber. Tyres are mostly rather boring and forgettable. Until one fails, that is. Then, you’re given a sharp reminder of just how important they are.
These days, that doesn’t happen very often. On average, you’re likely to suffer a puncture just once every six years. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that if you suffer two punctures in one day – as I did a while back – then you’re good for the next 12 years. I wish!
The New Type of Wheel
Modern tyres are much more sophisticated than they once were, with clever compounds and patterns to clear away surface water, cushion the ride and give us grip on the roads. Many cars now have TPMS – tyre pressure monitoring systems – to give early detection of any change in pressure and issue a timely alert.
How Does It Work?
Sensors fitted on each wheel check for any sign of reduced tyre pressure on start-up. Then, while the car is being driven, they continue to check for any change – about every 30 seconds – and send signals which trigger a dashboard warning light if any pressure drop is detected.
If your car is TPMS equipped, you’ll want to be aware that from 1st January 2015 it will be included as a new item for checking in the MOT test, with a faulty monitoring system added to the list as a potential cause for failure. So if you get false warnings, or have any reason to doubt that its functioning correctly, best get it checked.
Even if your current car doesn’t have tyre pressure monitoring, your next one may well. Newer second-hand cars often do, and a change in regulations means that from now on, by EU decree, all new cars sold here and across Europe must come equipped with TPMS.
The Importance of Tyre Safety
While we’re discussing tyres, here’s a timely reminder to have a quick check on their condition and inflation. As winter starts to bite, having them in good shape is particularly crucial for safety. Around 1,200 road casualties a year across Europe are blamed on tyre malfunctions. So tyres can be boring, yes – but vital? Definitely.