Vacations by car - TOP6 tips for the safe trip

Proper and well-kept tyres mean safer and cheaper driving
Vacation journeys are ahead of us. Higher traffic on the roads during this period and usually good weather can lull drivers' vigilance and excessively increase faith in their own control skills. In order to prepare well for the trip and increase your chances of safe access to the place, experts advise on how to properly prepare for vacation trips.

It is worth remembering that one of the most vulnerable parts of the car to damage are the tyres – their wrong selection and operation is the second most serious fault found by police officers during road accidents (14.2% of the total), right after the lack of lighting. In addition, tyres are the only point of contact between the vehicle and the road – therefore, their condition and quality determine whether the car brakes in an emergency and does not skid.

– Drivers often overestimate the quality of tyres and often "commute" them for the last season. In a situation where a road accident occurs as a result of improper tyre condition, the insurer, in accordance with the autocasco agreement, has the right to refuse to pay compensation or to reduce it for contributing to the event – explains Piotr Sarnecki, General Director of the Polish Tyre Industry Association (PTIA).


What to remeber before going on the vacation trip? First of all 3P rule: proper tyres, professional service, precise pressure.

Before packing the car

1.     Verify the condition of tyres and rims – if you do not have the appropriate knowledge, leave it to the professionals. Professional tyre service (preferably with the Certificate of PTIA and TÜV SÜD, to be found at: will check the condition of tyres and rims comprehensively. Any mechanical damage, cuts, missing rubber compound or cracks increase the risk of an accident. The same applies to the condition of the rims – their damage leads to the so-called beating – and this translates into a lack of driving comfort and accelerated wear of the suspension components. At highway speeds, the wheel rotates at least 1000 times per minute, therefore any imperfections in the condition of the wheels can lead to a tragedy on the road.

2. Check the tread depth – in the regulations it is determined by the tyre manufacturer using the maximum wear indicator. If not, then not less than 1.6 mm. However, it must be emphasized that such a height often does not ensure safe guidance. Therefore, always check the recommendations of our tyre manufacturer regarding the tread depth.

Therefore, verification of the tread before longer journeys should be a permanent element of car checking. Check the depth in 3-4 places on the tyre tread. Preferably a depth gauge, but it can also be a 5 PLN coin. If, after inserting it into the tread groove, its silver border clearly protrudes, it is a signal that you need to equip yourself with a new set before leaving. We should also remember that by doing a few thousand kilometres during the summer holidays, we will use about 5-10% of the tyre mileage. If it is at the safe edge in front of the road, we will come back with our soul on our shoulder even with – ads Piotr Sarnecki.

3. We take care of the spare wheel – it has also tyres in which the pressure level must be verified. Especially before further departure, it is worth having a fully functional "spare" and easily accessible in the event of a breakdown. The pressure level in the spare wheel is marked on its side. Let's remember about it before we pack the car with holiday luggage.

4. In summer, we drive on dedicated tyres – driving the car on winter tyres at summer temperatures is dangerous and uneconomical. The soft rubber compound of the tread of winter tyres becomes even more plastic at high temperatures. This translates into worse grip, especially when cornering, and dangerously extends the braking distance. TÜV SÜD's tests at a temperature of 23 degrees C showed that from a speed of 85 km/h, a car driving on a wet road with summer tyres will stop 8 meters earlier than on winter tyres. These are two lengths of a medium car! What's more, the plasticization of the compound of winter tyres significantly accelerates their wear and increases fuel consumption.

5. Don't forget about the brakes! The pre-trip vehicle inspection should also take into account the condition of the braking system. The discs and pads should be of the correct thickness. The brake fluid is also an important element. Many drivers forget that it has hygroscopic properties, i.e. it absorbs water from the environment, which in turn significantly weakens the operation of the entire system. Remember to change the brake fluid approx. Every 2-3 years and buy only tightly closed packages. According to experts from the Motor Transport Institute (ITS), efficient brakes, with high-quality fluid in the system, reach their full potential after approximately 0.2 seconds. In practice, this means (assuming that a vehicle traveling at a speed of 100 km / h travels a distance of 27 m / s) that braking does not start until 5 meters after pressing the brake. With a fluid that does not meet the required parameters, the braking distance will be up to 7.5 times longer, and the car will start to brake only 35 meters from the moment the brake pedal is depressed!

After packing the car

6. Before we set off, there is one more thing we need to do – check the tyre pressure. This is the basic parameter that guarantees both safety, tyre life and economical driving. Too low pressure causes greater tyre deformation and significant resistance – a loss of 0.3 bar means a 6% increase in rolling resistance, and at 1 bar – a 30% increase and a few percent increase in fuel consumption. Consuming more fuel or energy is one thing. Worse, however, to drive with under-inflated tyres is the high risk of damaging their inner layers while driving. Why is this happening? When the tyre is under-inflated, the sidewalls of the tyre bend more while driving and thus heat up more. During a journey of several hundred kilometres, the metal layers are separated from the rubber and such a tyre breaks while driving. That's why it's so dangerous.

The optimal pressure value set by the car manufacturer is usually found on a sticker, on the pillar at the driver's door or under the fuel flap. Before going on vacation, the pressure measurement must be carried out on cold tyres on the car packed with luggage or after driving no more than 2-3 km at a slow pace, so that the tyres do not heat up – informs Piotr Sarnecki.

– Let's carefully check our car before the trip, especially the tyres that can handle every journey the hardest. At highway speed, the most popular tyre rotates over 1000 times a minute – it is the quality of the tyres, but also their condition that determines road safety. Taking care of the remaining elements of the vehicle will ensure that the level of safety of summer trips will be at a high level – ads Piotr Sarnecki.


Source: Polish Tyre Industry Association