Beaurepaires marketing manager Melinda Wood, says a tyre's quality, as well as its inflation, tread depth and condition, greatly influence its ability to stop a vehicle in an emergency.
Spending more on tyres could save your life.
Most people regard tyres as a grudge purchase, to be done as cheaply as possible, but a new national survey confirms the expert view that quality tyres are worth the extra. Really cheap buys - such as no-name Chinese imports - have been exposed through the research.
A Beaurepaires survey found that better tyres can also reduce stopping distances by up to 7m compared to cheaper ones. Beaurepaires marketing manager Melinda Wood, says a tyre's quality, as well as its inflation, tread depth and condition, greatly influence its ability to stop a vehicle in an emergency.
Good tyres can mean the difference between having and avoiding a collision, she says. With the Christmas holiday season about to start, motoring organisations like the RACV are recommending that drivers check their tyres for the correct inflation pressure, any defects and the whether they are roadworthy. Brakes should also be checked.
A Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce survey recently found that 25 per cent of Victorian vehicles would fail a five-point safety check involving tyres, steering, seatbelts, headlights and brakes.
RACV research has found that more than 20 per cent of all vehicles on Melbourne's roads are driving on at least one unroadworthy tyre and that one in five vehicles have under-inflated tyres. An unroadworthy tyre is one with a tread worn below 1.5mm or has been physically damaged.
The RACV's chief engineer, Michael Case, says cheaper tyres are often a false economy. "In general you get what you pay for," he says.
"Cheaper tyres are not necessarily a bargain because they don't last as long."
Case says that the economic downturn has forced many motorists to neglect vehicle maintenance or resort to budget imported tyres. "Anecdotally there is a connection between the economy and vehicle maintenance," he says.
The RACV's own tests have shown that a car travelling at 60km/h on worn tyres will need an extra 3.9m to stop. The Beaurepaires survey found that just one in eight drivers (12 per cent) understand that premium tyres are safer.
"More worryingly, many drivers think there is little difference in stopping distances between premium and cheap tyres - 33 per cent think this stopping advantage is less than 6m," Wood says. Women are more likely than men to underestimate the stopping distance advantage of premium tyres.
Almost two in five women (38 per cent) consider the difference in stopping distance advantages between premium and cheap tyres to be less than 6m, compared to 28 per cent of men.
Beaurepaires tyre experts tested 16 different sets of tyres, from many leading brands, in both wet and dry conditions. Dunlop and Goodyear - distributed by Beaurepaires - were the best performers, stopping up to 7m earlier in the wet than the other tyres.
These same tyres also led the way in dry conditions, with almost 2m on their competitors. Stopping distance depends on several factors like reaction times, speed, driving conditions, and the condition of the tyres and brakes.
Under-inflated tyres will also significantly affect a vehicle's handling and ability to stop in an emergency. Drivers unsure about the condition of their tyres should have them checked by an expert. Most reputable dealers have free safety inspections.
Recommended Stopping Distances:
1. Check tyre pressures regularly
2. Replace any worn or defective tyres
3. Have tyres balanced and steering alignment checked 4. Check your spare tyre is correctly inflated and roadworthy 5. Practice how to change a tyre