Under-inflated tyres costing European motorists £2.4m a year
Statistically speaking, you’re more likely than not to be driving on under-inflated tyres. When Bridgestone headed out last year and checked the tyre condition of 38,000 cars in nine European countries, it found 71 per cent of participating motorists to be driving on tyres inflated to a lower than recommended pressure. The majority of these under-inflated tyres were admittedly less than 0.5 bar under pressure, yet 7.5 per cent of motorists’ tyres were more than 0.5 bar under pressure and half a percent of motorists were driving on tyres at least 0.75 bar under pressure.
The tyre maker points out that 18 to 26 per cent of the total force upon a vehicle comes from tyre rolling resistance. Using this figure, it calculates this inflation laxity is costing Europeans £2.4 billion and two billion tons of wasted fuel per year. What’s more, by not keeping our tyres at the correct pressure we ‘gift’ the environment 4.8 million tons of additional and unnecessary CO2 emissions annually – the equivalent of 1.8 g/km for every car on the road. And if that’s not enough to ruin your morning, then consider this – Bridgestone estimates that 12.2 million tyres in Europe are removed from circulation each year because of premature wear. The cost of replacing these is not pocket money, particularly bearing in mind that the tyre maker announced a fresh round of price increases only yesterday.
“Driving on under-inflated tyres and insufficient tread depth is doubly dangerous,” states Bridgestone. “The loss of vehicle handling control and increase in vehicle drift rise sharply as tyre pressure is reduced. Low tyre pressure also has an extremely negative effect on tyre durability, due to excessive shear stress in the tyre shoulder and heat build-up from sidewall bending. Motorists identified with seriously low tyre pressure face possible tyre failure due to these factors.”
In addition to widespread under-inflation, Bridgestone’s tyre checkers found almost 12 per cent of tyres on the road to be worn down below the EU legal minimum of 1.6 mm tread depth. Bridgestone informs that when driving on wet roads, cars travelling on tyres with a tread depth below 1.6 mm are prone to hydroplaning at speeds up to 40 per cent lower than for cars travelling on thicker treaded tyres. A final statistic from the tyre maker is that around two per cent of inspected tyres were both severely worn and severely under-inflated; the proud owners of these specimens can only hope the increased rolling resistance experienced will slow them enough to counter the added aquaplaning risk.