Features, Spotlight

Expert opinion: Continental Tyres’ safety advice for touring

A numberplate reading 'Continental' on the front of a vehicle

Easter is on its way, marking what is traditionally the start of touring season. While some caravan and motorhome owners may have continued to use their leisure vehicles throughout the winter, others will just be taking theirs out of storage.

Whether you’ve been enjoying your setup for the last few months or not, the changing of the seasons is a good time to review the safety of your rig. CaravanTimes spoke to Steve Howat, general manager for technical services at Continental Tyres UK, about staying safe on the road as staycation season comes into view.

He said: “With the Easter weekend approaching and the prospect of warmer weather around the corner, many Brits will be turning their attention to UK staycations, or European road trips for their holidays this year.

“A motorhome provides the perfect way to see what the UK has to offer, acting as your very own fully kitted out hotel on wheels. Whether it’s a converted van or classic motorhome, safe driving is extremely important, and one major factor all drivers frequently overlook is their tyres.”

Conduct a tyre inspection

Tyres are the only part of your leisure vehicle that connects with the road, making them crucial to safety and ensuring no unnecessary interruptions to your trip. Regular inspections prior to setting off on a touring expedition should be part of your pre-holiday routine, representing an opportunity to rectify anything of concern.

Mr Howat recommended: “Check your tread depth with a 20p coin by simply placing the coin into the main tread grooves of your tyre. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when it is inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit.

“If the outer band of the coin is visible, then your tyres may be illegal and unsafe and should be checked immediately by a qualified tyre professional. Other key areas to spot signs for are uneven tyre wear and damage, punctures, cuts, impacts, cracks and bulges.”

Issues that can affect your tyres

While tread is probably the most widely publicised aspect of tyre safety, there are lots of other factors that can impact their efficacy. This is particularly the case with a caravan or motorhome, which has additional functions to a vehicle like a car.

Mr Howat told CaravanTimes: “There is plenty more you can do before you set off, especially when you pack for your trip. Before travelling, avoid overloading your motorhome to prevent tyre strain and reduced fuel efficiency.

“What’s more, maintaining the correct tyre pressure is crucial – underinflation leads to sluggish handling while overinflation poses dangers. Optimal pressure ensures even tyre wear, meaning a smoother drive and reduced risk of blowouts. You can find your motorhome’s recommended pressure in the owner’s manual,” he added.

Stay on the right side of the law

With something as crucial as tyre safety, there are laws in place to protect caravan and motorhome drivers, as well as other road users. The consequences of being on the wrong side of the legislation include fines, points on your licence and putting yourself, your family and those around you in danger.

Mr Howat highlighted this: “UK tyre laws cover pressure, tread depth and condition – all key to the comfort and performance of your car, and to the safety of everyone on the road. That’s why if the police find you’ve got illegal tyres, you could receive a £2,500 fine and three penalty points per tyre.

“The golden rule is that all of the controls on your motorhome – brakes, steering, acceleration and gears – should be operated slowly and smoothly.  Gently accelerate and shift up the gears as quickly as possible to limit the chances of your wheels slipping.”

The right tyres for the job

If you’ve owned a caravan or motorhome for a while, you’ll have come to notice that there are some things that are specific to leisure vehicles. Swapping these elements out for more generic alternatives can lead to problems, so follow advice and ensure you’re investing in the right features for your van.

Mr Howat told us: “As with all road vehicles, it is essential that tyres of the correct specification be fitted. Tyres originally fitted to motorhomes are usually of a Light Commercial (C or CP) type. CP-type tyres are now widely used as they have been designed to cater for the higher loads imposed by motorhomes. Fitting your motorhome with tyres that are different to the original specification is likely to influence the handling and overall driving experience.”

Continental has been in business for over 150 years, but continues to develop its technology to ensure its tyres are suitable for modern day life. It prides itself on making a major contribution to safe, cost effective and ecologically efficient mobility. Continental employs some 190,000 people in 58 countries and markets.