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Deflated tyres cost UK motorists a staggering £112 million annually, study reveals

A recent study by The Motor Ombudsman has highlighted a significant financial burden on UK motorists due to improperly inflated tyres. The report reveals that drivers operating vehicles with tyres under-inflated below manufacturer-recommended levels are collectively incurring an annual loss of £112 million.

The issue, known as 'under-inflation', not only accelerates tyre wear but also poses hidden dangers and increases fuel consumption. According to the British Tyre Manufacturers' Association (BTMA) and TyreSafe, an estimated 57% of vehicles on UK roads are running with tyre pressures at least 10% below recommended levels. With approximately 33 million cars on the roads, this translates to nearly 19 million vehicles, or about 75 million tyres, failing to meet proper inflation standards.

The financial impact of under-inflation is stark. The average cost of a 16-inch tyre, one of the most common sizes in the UK, is £85. This means the premature wear caused by under-inflation results in a preventable annual expenditure of £112 million, or the equivalent of 1.3 million tyres.

The study also included a survey of 1,000 UK drivers, revealing a concerning lack of confidence in tyre maintenance. Over a third (37%) admitted discomfort with the task of inflating tyres correctly, while more than half (51%) were hesitant to check their tyre tread depth, potentially risking falling below the legal limit of 1.6mm.

These findings come as The Motor Ombudsman launches its ‘Make Time for Tyres’ campaign, aimed at promoting tyre safety awareness. The initiative, supported by TyreSafe and tyre safety advocate Sophie Lyden, encourages drivers to regularly inspect their tyres and seek services from Motor Ombudsman-accredited businesses for maintenance and repairs. As millions prepare for the summer holiday getaway, this campaign serves as a timely reminder of the importance of tyre care to ensure safe and cost-effective driving.

Bill Fennell, Chief Ombudsman and Managing Director of The Motor Ombudsman, said: “Under-inflated tyres carry a number of risks and costs. The purpose of our study and ‘Make Time for Tyres’ campaign, is to draw attention to the importance of drivers and vehicle owners caring for their tyres, so that they stay safe at all times, and benefit from using them to their full potential. Avoiding any unnecessary expense is especially pertinent with the current financial pressures on the nation’s motorists.”

Stuart Lovatt, Chair at TyreSafe, said: “Under-inflation compromises tyre and vehicle performance, and can ultimately cost drivers and vehicle owners dearly, as The Motor Ombudsman study has clearly shown. We strongly urge motorists to observe the pressure levels recommended by vehicle manufacturers. This is because, they have been calculated with absolute precision to ultimately keep vehicle users safe when on the road.”

Backing the initiative, Sophie Lyden, tyre safety campaigner, and Depot Manager at Westgate Tyres in Morecambe, Lancashire, added: “Regardless of the length of journeys being undertaken, whether it is a short commute, or a longer trip away, drivers should check their tyres at least once a month to ensure that they are safe and legal. This includes the tread depth, pressure, and their overall condition at the four corners of the car, and of course, they should also take a look at the spare in the boot, should they have one.

“If motorists are unsure as to what to look out for, and how to carry out basic safety observations, they should seek help from a Motor Ombudsman-accredited business like ourselves. These small checks only take a few minutes, but the repercussions of not giving tyres the due care and attention they deserve, is far more costly in the long-run in terms of time and repairs. We therefore advise all motorists to keep an eye on their tyres for the benefit of all occupants and road users.”


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