Your vehicleâ€™s tyres play a crucial role to your carâ€™s safety. This season, before embarking on any long journey with your car, it is important you ascertain the conditions of your vehicleâ€™s tyres. The tyres of your car are one of the key factors affecting your vehicleâ€™s handling and braking, and overall highway safety. What steps can you take to ensure that your tyres stay in optimal condition? Performing regular checks is quick and easy, and a worthwhile investment of time in you and your familyâ€™s safety.
â€¢Trouble signs to look out for
Visually inspect your tyres on a regular basis. If you note any of the following early warning signs, have a professional inspection performed, check and correct items that may be causing the condition, or replace your tyres.
â€¢Uneven tread wear
This can be caused by improper inflation, misaligned wheels, damaged tyres, or by problems with suspension parts.
â€¢Excessively worn tread
Most modern tyres have tread-wear indicator bars running across the tread, which signal the minimum allowable tread depth of 1/16-inch. When the tread wears down to these bars, itâ€™s time for new tyres. Inexpensive tread-wear gauges are available at auto-parts and tyre stores.
â€¢Bulges or blisters
If you see a bulge or blister on the sidewall, replace the tyre at once. These signal potential weak spots that could lead to tyre failure.
Tyre vibration may be a sign a wheel is misaligned, unbalanced, or bent. It could also signify internal tyre damage. Donâ€™t ignore vibration: have the vehicle serviced at once.
â€¢The problem of under-inflation
Surveys have shown that as many as half the cars on the road may be riding on one or more under-inflated tyres. Part of the problem is that tyres lose air through the rubber and at interfaces with the wheel and valve, sometimes so slowly that many people donâ€™t realise it has happened. Seasonal temperature changes may also cause the tyre pressure to drop.
Because the sidewall flexes more at lower tyre pressures, under-inflation compromises the driving control that a tyre is designed to provide. Even a small pressure lossâ€”such as four psiâ€”can affect a carâ€™s handling, making it harder to control. It can also make the ride softer and the car wallow. In addition, under-inflated tyres lower a vehicleâ€™s fuel economy, which can cost you more money at the pump. A sidewall that flexes too much can also cause heat to build up excessively, which can shorten a tyreâ€™s life and possibly lead to a tread separation or blow-out.
â€¢Tyre-inflation maintenance tips
Donâ€™t judge the pressure by eyeballing a tyre: Modern radial tyres bulge slightly, making them look a little under-inflated, even when theyâ€™re not.
At least once a month, use a tyre gauge to check the pressure in all four tyres and the spare. Set the tyres to the automakerâ€™s recommended tyre pressure. This is printed on a placard in the car, either on a doorjamb, the fuel-filler door, or on the inside of the glove-compartment lid. Donâ€™t go by the â€œmaximum inflation pressureâ€ imprinted on the tyre. If your car has a limited-service spare, also check that itâ€™s inflated to the pressure specified on the placardâ€”usually 60 psi.
Measure the pressure with the tyres cold, before theyâ€™ve been driven more than a mile or two. As the vehicle is driven, the tyres heat up and the pressure rises, which makes it more difficult to set them to the correct cold-tyre pressure.