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Resources for Drivers and Operators

Tyre wear and other causes of deterioration

Maximising tyre life makes good economic sense, as well as improving safety and reducing environmental impacts. While some causes of accelerated wear and deterioration can be prevented, others cannot. All should be recognised.

Effects of tyre pressure and road conditions on tyre life

Two factors that have the greatest effect on tyre performance and life are tyre pressures and road conditions.

Tyre pressure

Correct tyre pressure for the load it carries is vital. Incorrect pressures can be dangerous as well as costly.

  • A tyre under inflated by 20% will have its life shortened by 30%.
  • A tyre under inflated by 30% will have its life shortened by 45%.
  • A tyre under inflated by 50% has its life cut short by three quarters.
  • Over-inflation can reduce tyre life as well as under-inflation.

Road conditions

In an ideal world, tyres would only be used at their correct pressures and on flat motorways which are perfectly surfaced with good tarmac. That would allow them to realise 100 per cent of their working life expectancy. In the real world we encounter many road surfaces and situations that reduce tyre life, including corners, steep hills, badly made roads and routes that require more use of brakes.

  • Concrete surfaces – 20% extra tyre wear
    Even if used only on flat motorways but with a concrete surface instead of tarmac, tyre life expectancy could fall by as much as 20%.
  • Class 'B' roads – 24% extra tyre wear
    The increased incidence of corners and hills combined with greater need for braking combine to reduce tyre life on class 'B' roads by as much as 24%.
  • Country roads – 50% extra tyre wear
    Typically, country roads share the same causes of premature tyre wear as class 'B' roads, usually to a greater degree. Tyre life is typically reduced by 50%.
  • Poorly made roads and broken surfaces – 78% extra tyre wear
    Uneven and rough surfaces have a huge impact upon tyre life, with a tyre life reduction of up to 78%.

Tyre deterioration through misuse and poor maintenance

A frequent cause of early tyre deterioration and failure is mis-use through bad driving. Riding kerbs, excessive braking and harsh cornering can all lead to excessive tyre wear and damage. Bad driving habits cost money. Poor vehicle maintenance and using a vehicle with damaged or worn components, particularly in steering and suspension lines, can lead to uneven and premature tyre wear or failure.

Tyre deterioration through age

Tyres deteriorate naturally and unavoidably with age. This shows as cracking of the sidewalls of the tread rubber.

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