Steve Howat, General Manager – Technical Services at Continental Tyres, looks at the recent ban on 10-year-old tyres and what fleets need to know.
February saw new legislation come into force banning certain commercial vehicles from using older tyres on UK roads. The regulations state that, from February 1st 2021, it is illegal for heavy goods vehicles, buses, and coaches to use tyres which are more than 10 years old on the front (steering) axles. For minibuses with single rear axle fitment, the ban applies to both axles.
The C&U amended regulation has been passed to reflect this requirement to age restrict tyres to this 10 years from age of manufacture on steer axles and both axles on single wheel minibuses. The age of a tyre is only one factor in the complex equation of ensuring safety.
Tyre pressure and solid tyre husbandry are also both equally important and this legislation brings tyre age sharply into focus, this is a topic operators must understand if they are to avoid fines and remain legally compliant.
Which vehicles will be affected by the 10-year-old tyre ban?
The framework of the new rules is very simple, yet as ever, the devil lies in the detail. Fleet operators should make sure they fully understand the fundamentals of the legislation and work with their tyre service provider to ensure all tyres are within the legal age bracket.
The regulations apply to goods vehicles with a gross mass of more than 3.5 tonnes, to buses, and to coaches. For minibuses, the rules apply to rear axles, or both axles, unless the vehicle is equipped with twin wheels. Full descriptions of each category have been clearly laid out by the government to avoid any confusion.
How will the regulations be applied?
The rules will be enforced during annual vehicle tests, administered by the DVSA, as well as during on-the-spot roadside inspections, where Advisory’s or Inspection Notices respectively will be issued against vehicles found running any tyre with a manufacturer date code of between nine and 10 years of age.
When assessing steer axle tyres of heavy goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight, large buses or coaches, and front or rear tyres on single fitment minibuses that are beyond the 10 year from date of manufacture, heftier punishments are in place for violations. During annual tests, such instances will be considered a Dangerous Deficiency in cases of roadside inspection, these tyres will face an immediate Prohibition.
How will workshops assess tyre age?
Tyre inspection manuals currently state that all tyres must be marked with a visible date of manufacture, using a four-digit ‘DOT’ date and year code or for retreaded tyres the age code may be part of their specific numbering system. Current annual testing requirements do not stipulate that the DOT code is placed on the outside of the tyre, rather that it is simply visible where possible – this may not be the case with twin tyres.
What should fleets do?
Fleets managed by Continental’s Conti360° Fleet Solutions can rest assured that robust tyre maintenance schedules are in place, allowing them to ensure tyres are assessed based on use and mileage as well as age, and that they are always regularly inspected for damage and pressure variations – all very important aspects of tyre safety. Continental would advise any operators to work closely with their service provider to ensure tyre age has been adequately built into these tyre maintenance polices, and indeed, tyre supply contracts.