Tyre Extinguishers: if your car is targeted don’t drive it

German premium tyre manufacturer Continental Tyres’ key piece of advice to any Irish motorist whose vehicle falls victim to the so called ‘tyre extinguishers’ is ‘don’t drive it’.

According to news reports from Dublin and Meath over the past number of weeks, the tyre extinguishers are a network of environmental activists who are waging a protest campaign where they deflate the tyres of SUVs and leave a flyer on the vehicle’s windscreen explaining that they have deflated one or more of the tyres ‘because driving around in urban areas in your massive vehicle has huge consequences for others’.

The tactic they use is to push an object into the valve and screw the valve cap back on, the pressure from the tightly screwed cap then slowly releases the air from the tyre.

Tom Dennigan of Continental Tyres Ireland says: “In particular, in a situation where the valve is slowly releasing the air a visual inspection of the tyre may not pick up this fact, the first sign for a motorist that something is amiss will be a warning light on the vehicle’s Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) on the dashboard – since 2014, all new cars must be equipped with a TPMS.

“It may very well be the first time that the motorist has seen such a warning light on the dashboard. The best advice is not to drive the vehicle as, depending on the level of deflation, you risk damaging the tyre to the point where it may need to be replaced. The best approach would be to seek help from a breakdown service or mobile tyre repair unit who will be able to reinflate the tyre to the proper tyre pressure level.

“Alternatively, if the motorist can change the tyre by putting on a spare or ‘skinny’ temporary replacement wheel, they should do that and then take the original tyre to a garage and have it inflated again to the correct pressure level.

“In addition to potentially damaging it beyond repair by over flexing the sidewall of the tyre, driving on under-inflated tyres is not advised for a number of other reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, is the safety risk, depending on the level of deflation, driving on under-inflated tyres can affect the braking and stopping distance and the overall manoeuvrability of the car. Also, the extra drag on the car caused by the under-inflation will seriously affect the fuel economy of the vehicle.

“And then there is the small matter of penalty points, believe it or not, a Garda can impose penalty points on a driver whose car has incorrect levels of pressure in its tyres. However, like a raft of other tyre safety penalty point offences, enforcement is patchy to say the least, but the figures show that a small number of Irish drivers every year are awarded penalty points for having the incorrect pressure in their tyres’.

Continental Tyres advice: driving on deflated tyres will impact on safety; can damage the tyres; will use more fuel; and will make you liable for penalty points