Why Tyres are Important
Tyres are the only contact points your vehicle has to the road. It’s crucial that they are in excellent condition at all times. Looking after your tyres is easy and regularly checking your tyres can avoid life threatening accidents while driving.
Tyres have 4 main functions:
- Maintain steering or alter vehicles direction
- Support the weight of the vehicle
- Traction for braking and acceleration
- Air inside the tyres absorbs vibrations from the road
How to Take Care of Your Tyres
The more tread depth a tyre has the more grip it will have. The legal limit for tread depth is 1.6mm along the central ¾ of the tread around the full circumference of the tyre. However, it is highly recommended that the tyre is replaced before it reaches the legal limit. Any tyre depth under 3mm can hinder its performance.
To measure the tyre depth, it’s recommended that you use a tyre depth gauge as shown in the image below. Remember to check all four tyres and the inner, center and outer of the tyres.
Having the correct pressure in all four tyres is critical. Tyres tend to lose pressure over time and they need to be replenished with air regularly. This will also help extend the life of the tyre while improving safety and fuel efficiency. Under inflated tyres can lead to an increased risk of having a road traffic accident or a blow out.
Each vehicle will have different recommendations for tyre pressure. This information can usually be found in the owner’s manual or inside the driver’s door or inside the fuel filler cap. It will be in PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) or Bar. It’s recommended to check the pressure of the tyres when it they’re cold i.e. when the car has not been driven for several hours.
- Unscrew the dust cap on the air valve.
- Put the tyre-pressure gauge securely over the valve keeping it firmly in place. If there is a hissing sound, this means that air is escaping from the tyre and you need to press down harder to block the air.
- Read the measurement on the gauge and compare this to the recommended figure.
- If the pressure in the tyre is lower than the recommended figure, then pump air into the tyres until the correct pressure is reached. If the pressure is too high, then depress the tyre valve to let air out.
Damage or Wear
While tyres are designed to be durable and tolerate rough conditions they can become prone to damage. You should visually check tyres for any signs of damage or uneven wear. Some other things to look out for are:
- Separation of the rubber
- Perished looking rubber
- Bulges on the sidewall and damage to the wheel rims
Wheel Alignment & Balancing
Wheel alignment involves making adjustments to the wheels to ensure that they are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. This can extend the life of the tyres while ensuring that the vehicle drives correctly.
The following symptoms indicate the wheels may need to be re-aligned:
- Uneven wear: one of the front or rear tyres has a very different wear pattern than the one opposite it.
- Pulling to one side: the vehicle tends to pull to one side
- Vibration: misaligned wheels can cause the steering wheel or car to vibrate as the wheels pull against each other.
- Steering wheel & direction mismatch: if the vehicle is driving straight ahead but the steering wheel is turned to one side.
- Steering wheel does not self-centre
Wheel Balancing is the process of finding any heavy spots on the wheel/tyre and placing a balancing weight on the opposite side. This ensures that the wheel/tyre is balanced and prevents it from causing any unwanted vibrations.
The following symptoms indicate that the wheels need to be balanced:
- Vibration through the steering wheel, seat or floor of the car at high speeds
- Scalloped or cupped wear pattern on the tires.
If the vehicle has any of these symptoms you should take the car to your local approved tyre repair garage.