Although the holiday season is well underway, many Europeans are still planning summer holidays in their cars. Now is the time to make your final travel preparations and Bridgestone, the world's largest tyre and rubber manufacturer, advises all those travelling with a caravan, camper or boat trailer, to first check their tyres and to go through the checklist below.
The right tyres
Safety on the road starts with the right tyres, both for the towing vehicle and for the trailer. Winter tyres in summer can increase stopping distances by up to 30%. Equally important is the correct tyre pressure. Under-inflated tyres not only compromise your ability to brake and manoeuvre safely, they also consume more fuel and wear out faster. You should also bear in mind that if your vehicle is fully loaded, you will need to increase the tyre pressure. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6 mm. The easiest way of determining the depth is by using a special tread gauge, or the built-in tread wear indicator on your tyres. If the tread markers arranged transversely to the running direction are level with the tyre, it is time to replace the tyre. As a result of the high loads during holiday journeys, even minor damage to the tyre may in the worst case result in a flat tyre and thus to loss of steering control.
Well equipped for any situation
The standard safety equipment for any car travel includes a warning triangle, first aid box, and high visibility vests. Before departure, you should check the expiration date of the first aid kit and the number of high visibility vests. In many countries you need to carry high visibility vests for all passengers.
Special attention to be paid to the trailer tyres
Tyres age. After eight years or so, most tyres have lost so much suppleness that small cracks become visible. Also if the tread pattern is still adequate, they should be replaced, for a vehicle with hard tyres will more easily start to slip on a wet road - with fatal consequences for the trailer. Bridgestone advises to replace all tyres, regardless their condition, 10 years after the production date. More information is available here.
When loading your trailer
- Be sure to observe the specified drawbar load. Excessive pressure on the hitch relieves too much pressure on the steered front wheels of the towing vehicle, whereas an insufficient or even negative drawbar load (trailer overloaded at the rear) will often result in rolling of the trailer, e.g. when driving downhill. It is almost impossible to regain control over a trailer that has started to roll.
- Never overload your trailer! Check the towed weight of the vehicle, the hitch and the maximum payload of the trailer; first place the payload on bathroom scales.
- Only a small number of trailers are equipped with a spare wheel. Tyre repair kits with a spray gun should be stored protected from direct sunlight because they usually contain flammable propellant gas. Type repair kits with a compressor are therefore more practical. However, these too can only be used for holes with a maximum diameter of 6 mm. Moreover, they are intended only as a quick repair that allow you to drive to your nearest tyre dealer.
Be sure to check everything before you set off on your trip
- Check the tread depth: The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6 mm around the entire circumference of the tyre.
- Check your tyre pressure: At maximum load, the tyre pressure should be increased accordingly.
- Check your tyres for damage
- Check the age of your tyres: The last four digits of the DOT number on the tyre sidewall indicate the year of manufacture. The first two digits indicate the calendar week. The third and fourth number are the two final digits of the year of manufacture.
- Do your tyres have the appropriate load rating or load index? Your tyre dealer will be able to advise you on the correct tyres for the weight of your trailer. Bridgestone offers a broad range of tyres for all applications.
- Are your turn signal lights, brake lights and number plate lights in working order? This is especially important when travelling to countries where daylight running lights are compulsory, such as Italy and Sweden.
- Does the overrun brake function? When performing a brake check, ask a second person to check whether the trailer brakes function correctly.
Further tips and information on this topic are available on our website www.tyresafety.eu/en/safety
About Bridgestone Europe
Bridgestone Europe (BSEU), with European headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, is a key regional subsidiary of Tokyo-based Bridgestone Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of tyres and other rubber products. Bridgestone Europe operates an R&D center, 8 plants and offices in more than 30 European countries, with over 13,000 employees. BSEU’s premium tyres are sold both within Europe and globally.