Michelin is warning businesses that the cost of driving on under-inflated tyres has risen over an 18-month period, in line with the cost of fuel. In June 2017, average pump prices in the UK reached 116.4 pence per litre for unleaded and 117.4 pence per litre for diesel – an increase of 13.9 per cent and 14.5 per cent respectively since 1 January 2016.
Tyre pressures have a direct impact on a vehicle’s fuel economy, with under-inflation increasing both fuel usage and carbon emissions, whilst also posing serious safety risks to motorists and other road users.
UK data collected by Michelin over the last 10 years shows that, on average, at least 60 per cent of motorists drive on under-inflated tyres, and half of those are at dangerously under-inflated levels (more than 8psi).
As well as increasing fuel bills, under-inflation makes a vehicle’s steering less precise, increases stopping distances and leads to a higher risk of aquaplaning. It also reduces a tyre’s endurance capabilities, making it more prone to damage and possible rapid deflation.
Michelin testing has shown that a tyre which is 20 per cent under-inflated will typically return 20 per cent less mileage before needing to be replaced. That means a loss of 5,000 miles on a tyre which offers a potential mileage of 25,000 miles.
Michelin advises motorists to check tyre pressures – including the spare – at least every month and before any long journeys. Pressures should ideally be checked when the tyres are cold, meaning they have not been used in the last two hours or have covered less than two miles at low speed.