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Steve Howat at Continental Tyres advises motorhome drivers on staying safe while travelling this summer

Article provided by Continental Tyres

With summer just 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.

We know that first-time motorhome or campervan users are always on the lookout for tips or a simple maintenance checklist before hitting the road. Often overlooked by drivers is tyre maintenance, yet it's vital for safe and smooth travels. It should be the top priority on any checklist.

Continental Tyres motorhome imagePre-travel checklist

Since tyres are the vehicle's only contact with the road, regularly inspecting them could save your itinerary from an unnecessary interruption.

You can 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. The minimum legal tread depths are 1.6mm for vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes and 1.0mm for vehicles above 3.5 tonnes. 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.

As with any road trip, unforeseen events like a punctured tyre can happen. It's good to have a spare tyre that fits your motorhome in case of emergencies. Regularly check the spare tyre for its condition and ensure its inflated to the recommended pressure, which should be set at the maximum requirement for the vehicle. This precaution is crucial because you never know when you might need it or which wheel position it will be required for.

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. Make sure that the total weight of your vehicle is below the maximum limit specified. Leaving a margin of 10% can help compensate for any uneven distribution of the load.

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. Camper vans may be fitted with either conventional C type tyres or special camper van tyres marked CP. Depending on the type of tyre, pressures must be applied in accordance with the handbook recommendations. If there is any uncertainty regarding the appropriate pressures to be used, it's advisable to consult with a tyre manufacturer, such as us, for guidance.

UK tyre laws cover pressure, tread depth and condition – all key to the comfort and performance of your motorhome, 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.

Smooth sailingContinental Tyres motorhome image

The golden rule is that all 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, avoiding any rapid manoeuvres, to limit the chances of your wheels slipping. While it may sound obvious, it's crucial to understand that motorhomes have different load distributions compared to regular vehicles, leading to unique handling behaviours. Drive at a speed that feels comfortable for both you and your motorhome.

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, and in some European countries it is illegal to use replacements which differ in certain respects from the tyre fitted originally by the vehicle manufacturer.

As a general rule of thumb, we advise replacing all tyres that are over 10 years old, as indicated by the tyre's date stamp. However, we suggest fitting new tyres on motorhomes earlier if they show signs of deterioration. For instance, if tyres show cracks, it's imperative to replace them promptly. This is particularly relevant for motorhomes, as these tyres age quickly due to prolonged periods of remaining stationary.

Where possible, special motorhome tyres marked “CP” should be fitted, such as the VanContact Camper from Continental. These have a robust design that makes them ideal for use on motorhomes, engineered to handle heavy loads with ease while providing dependable handling and braking performance across various surfaces and conditions.

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