Of 1,587 motorists questioned, 42% were unaware of the legal tread depth of car tyres, while 29% admitted to driving on tyres they suspected were unroadworthy.
And the results were even more alarming for young drivers, with 58% of 18-29 year-olds in the dark over legal standards and 39% confessing to taking risks on old tyres.
“It’s terrifying to think that so many motorists are driving around on potentially dangerous tyres,” said Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle. “Driving on worn, or bald, tyres can be incredibly dangerous – for you and other road-users. Not only will you have less control of your vehicle, especially in wet conditions, but you’re also at greater risk of suffering a puncture.
“Motorists should regularly check their tyres and if the tread has been worn down to the tyre wear indicators, or there is less than 1.5 milometers of tread across the entire face of the tyre, then it is illegal and dangerous, and should be replaced as soon as possible.
“Unfortunately though, buying new tyres is not high on the priority list for some motorists, which is incredible when you consider your tyres are the only thing separating you and your vehicle from the road. Tyres are not one of those things you should skimp on, but clearly that is the case for some people.”
The Canstar Blue survey, conducted in December 2015, found that 48% of motorists delay buying new tyres for as long as possible, while 25% tend to buy the cheapest tyres available. Again drivers aged 18-29 were found to be most likely, with 56% holding off buying new tyres and 38% opting for the cheapest tyres.
Young female drivers were found to have the most concerning lack of tyre safety knowledge of all, with 67% of 18-29 year-olds unaware of the legal tread depth. However, males in their 30s (45%) were most likely to admit driving on potentially unsafe tyres.
Buying new tyres
With Aussie motorists spending an average of $151 per new tyre, buying a replacement set can be expensive, but will be a price worth paying, said Mrs Doyle.
“Quality tyres don’t come cheap, but will probably end up lasting longer than cheap ones, and could therefore work out at better value in the long-run. Your first and last thoughts when buying tyres should always be about safety. There are lots of different car tyres available, so it can be easy to take your eye off the ball. Seek expert opinion and just buy the tyres that are the safest option for your vehicle.
“The majority of motorists are wary of being ripped off when they buy new tyres, which is why it’s important to do your homework in advance. Find out which tyres are best for your car and think carefully about where you go to buy them. We’ve all seen the undercover news reports on rogue mechanics taking advantage of little old ladies, which has helped create mistrust in the auto industry. But there are many reputable tyre retailers out there who can check your tyres for you and guide you in the right direction if you need to buy new ones.”
Highest rated tyres and retailers
Respondents to the Canstar Blue survey rated the car tyres they most recently bought and the tyre retailer they bought them from, based on customer satisfaction. Tyre brands were rated on factors including stopping ability, handling, tyre life and value for money, while tyre retailers were judged on customer service and the quality of tyres they stock.
Ten tyre brands featured in the results and for the second year in a row, Michelin scored five stars across most variables, including overall customer satisfaction.
Seven tyre retailers featured in the results and three earned the maximum overall rating – Bob Jane T-Marts, Bridgestone and Tyrepower – the latter scoring five stars for the third year in a row.
“These results should be a wakeup call to those motorists who put thoughts of their car tyres to the back of their mind,” said Mrs Doyle. “Yes, tyres can be expensive, but you can’t put a price on safety. Go and talk to the experts and don’t put yourself, and others, at unnecessary risk.”