TyreSafe Highlights Pressure Washer Dangers
TyreSafe (formerly the Tyre Industry Council) has issued a warning outlining potential safety risks posed by equipment used by hand car wash teams in the UK. It appears that the industrial strength washing equipment used by such outfits, which are capable of dispensing water at extremely high pressure, can cause sidewall damage and degradation if aimed directly at a tyre, especially if the water is heated or if applied for a prolonged period of time.
International findings support TyreSafe’s claims. The German safety group DEKRA has found that if a washer nozzle is held close to a tyre at very high pressure, damage can occur in as little as five seconds. Even tyres that display no outward sign of damage after receiving a high-pressure blast may have microscopic perforations that can weaken the sidewall and cause a blowout.
Another potentially unsafe hand car wash practice reported by TyreSafe is the use of excessively strong soaps or detergents. These can remove protective chemicals embedded in the sidewall – visually discernable by the presence of brown watermarks – resulting in a marked reduction in tyre durability.
There are an estimated five to ten thousand small hand car wash teams operating in the UK, and according to a recent TyreSafe survey, more than 80 per cent of drivers are unaware that tyre damage can occur if the high-pressure washing equipment used by these teams is not handled correctly.
TyreSafe has issued the following advice to motorists concerned about washing their vehicles: Ideally, a light-to-medium duty pressure washer should be used (110 bar or less), and the washer jet nozzle should be kept at least 20cm from the tyre surface. A fan nozzle should always be used to clean tyres, rather than a circular nozzle, and prolonged exposure to any specific area of the tyre should be prevented. Also avoid aiming the water jet directly at the join between the tyre and the wheel rim.