With the summer holiday season fast approaching, the UK’s leading road safety groups are urging drivers to get proactive with a few essential safety checks. What’s being pushed this time around is the importance of ensuring that it isn’t just the car that’s roadworthy, but also the caravan or camper being towed behind.
Each summer, the UK’s 650,000+ camper and caravan owners take to the roads for their annual escapes – many of whom fail to carry out even the most remedial safety checks. There is of course much more that can go wrong, but a caravan is only ever as safe as the tyres it rides upon which in turn represents the most important check owners can and must carry out.
“For many, this is the first time of the year that they will be heading away in their caravan or motorhome,” advises Stuart Jackson, chairman of leading UK tyre safety authority TyreSafe.
“After the winter when they’ve often had little or no use, it’s essential that the vehicle’s tyres are checked thoroughly before use, otherwise a number of potential safety hazards could bring an abrupt end to a relaxing holiday.”
Going about the process need not be a big task and it’s unlikely the pros will have to be called in. According to TyreSafe, the bulk of the process involves little more than a visual inspection during which the caravan owner will be on the lookout for any unusual bulges, lumps in the rubber, foreign object or splits. In addition, if there are signs of cracks appearing to show anywhere across the tyre, this could mean that the tyre is too old to be safely used and should be replaced.
It’s common for caravan tyres to become somewhat misshapen after a prolonged period without being used, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s not serious. If there are any apparent abnormalities shape-wise, have a professional look at it before using it.
TyreSafe also advises that tread depth be carefully checked using a suitable measuring device. According to UK law, the minimum tread depth legally allowed on a tyre is 1.6mm which should be constant all across the surface of the tyre and right around the edge. It’s advisable to invest in a measuring device, but in the absence of such a tool TyreSafe suggests a quick initial test with a 20p piece. It’s a case of just placing the coin between the tread and checking if you can still see the outer-band of the coin.
If you can, chances are the tread is too worn and thus needs replacing.
As for tyre pressure, exact guidelines vary massively in accordance with the size and shape of the tyre, the caravan being towed and how heavy a load the thing is bearing. All such details will be made very clear in the van’s owner’s handbook, so never overlook the importance of doing it by the book.
“It’s important that caravan and motorhome tyres are checked regularly throughout the entire season, but this is even more critical at the start of the year after any periods of lay-off,” concludes the advice from TyreSafe.
“If you are in any doubt about tyre safety issues, don’t take any risks, seek professional advice to ensure your break isn’t brought to a premature end.”
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