Improving the contact patch

BMW tyre

No matter how you view it, vehicle tyres are linked inextricably with road safety, a factor about which motoring journalist, Iain Robertson, feels very strongly as he extols the virtue of checking your tyres more regularly.

Although it did not happen often, I can recall enduring punctures on my bicycle, when I partook of frequent rides on the Scottish country roads of my youth. Filling the tyres with grass was the only solution on a couple of them, when the tube was torn outside the limited repair capabilities of my Puncture Repair Kit.

We take so much for granted with modern car tyres. In fact, some car manufacturers have taken to not equipping their new models with a spare wheel and tyre below the boot floor, so reliable and puncture-free are the latest covers. Companies like Michelin, Pirelli, Goodyear, Dunlop, Kumho and Vredestein are highly ingenious, when it comes to designing and developing a new tyre. Continental even produces a ‘run-flat’ version for everyday makes of motor vehicle.

The technology involved is extensive. While modern car designers like large diameter wheels clad in ultra-low profile tyres to achieve the most attractive appearance, the car accessory market is packed with fancy alloy wheels designed to show off the smartest tyres to best effect. Yet the same rules apply.

Tyres provide a contact patch that connects the vehicle with the road surface in a broad mix of weather conditions. They need to provide grip, sometimes when it is at a premium. Comfort and noise reduction are ever-present requirements, as indeed is primary safety. However, tyres also need to possess long wear characteristics, to avoid the costs involved in having to replace them too frequently.

The manner in which the tread features ‘sipes’ that clear away water and resist aquaplaning (when the car starts to float on standing water) is a priority for tyre designers. However, providing as wide a footprint as possible, for assured grip on dry surfaces, is also at the forefront of tyre technology.

Unfortunately, we tend to regard the reliable functions of tyres as a given and not looking after them by clattering up kerbs outside schools, or shops, and not steering around debris and potholes on the roads, can compromise safety. There are other issues related to caravans, trailers and even classic cars that may be laid-up for long periods of time.

Mr Clutch is also a branded tyre supplier at highly competitive rates. A slow puncture can be repaired at a Mr Clutch Autocentre but the technician will also take a view of the ‘hidden’ inside edge of your car’s tyres and may highlight the often inescapable damage incurred by striking a pothole in the road surface. When it comes to replacement tyres, as a result of normal wear and tear, you can be assured of a friendly approach from Mr Clutch at a price that will meet your needs.

The majority of cars have only four tyres and a combined contact patch that is surprisingly small but looking after your tyres ought to be your priority, in order to meet both road legal status, for tread depth, and safety for you and your passengers.