How to take care of your car’s tyres

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

YOUR tyres are the only thing be­tween you and the road. Make sure they’re in good nick.

The cor­rect tyre pres­sures – as listed in the owner’s man­ual or of­ten in­side one of the car’s doors or the fuel flap – are of the ut­most im­por­tance to achieve op­ti­mum road hold­ing and tyre life. Re­mem­ber to check the spare tyre too.

En­sure the tyres have at least 1mm tread depth – the le­gal min­i­mum – around the en­tire cir­cum­fer­ence of the tyre to main­tain road grip in wet weather. At least 3mm is rec­om­mended, how­ever, and some tyres have tread wear in­di­ca­tors in the tread pat­tern to show when the tyre must be re­placed.

Also check the side­walls and re­place the tyre if there are any bub­bles or deep scratches, as these may lead to a blowout. Punc­tures on the tread sur­face can usu­ally be re­paired if they’re small enough, but a hole in the side­wall means the tyre needs re­plac­ing.

Get the most out of your rub­ber. Ro­tate tyres when pos­si­ble. Chang­ing tyre po­si­tion on your car re­duces un­even wear and tear on the tread, thus ex­tend­ing the life of the tyres. On older cars where all four tyres are the same size and non-di­rec­tional they should gen­er­ally be ro­tated di­ag­o­nally – front right to rear left and front left to rear right.

Some high-per­for­mance cars, how­ever, are fit­ted with di­rec­tional tread pat­terns de­signed only to turn in one di­rec­tion, so with these they’ll need to be ro­tated front to back on the same side of the ve­hi­cle. Tyres which are di­rec­tional, and of dif­fer­ent sizes from front to back should not be ro­tated. If one or more of your tyres shows un­even tread wear it’s usu­ally an in­di­ca­tion of an align­ment or sus­pen­sion prob­lem. In this case take your car to a pro-

fes­sional ser­vice cen­tre for ad­vice.

Avoid re-grooved and re-treaded tyres. Don’t play with your life by buy­ing re-grooved tyres, which un­scrupu­lous op­er­a­tors sell at at­trac­tively cheap prices. Re-grooved tyres are pro­duced by carv­ing new treads into a worn tyre to cre­ate more tread depth. This has the ef­fect of ex­pos­ing the tyre casing which can cause the tyre to fail and cause a ma­jor ac­ci­dent.

Re-treaded tyres are made from old tyres with a new layer of tread bonded around their cir­cum­fer­ence. While cheaper than buy­ing new, re-treads can­not of­fer the longevity

and safety of a new tyre.

Know your shim­mies from your veers. It’s a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion that when your steer­ing wheel shakes it means your car needs an align­ment. While vi­bra­tions em­a­nat­ing from wheels can in­di­cate a va­ri­ety of prob­lems, it most com­monly in­di­cates a tyre bal­ance is­sue.

When tyres are mounted to rims for the first time they’re bal­anced with small lead wheel weights which some­times fall off re­sult­ing in a wob­ble felt through the steer­ing. Any rep­utable tyre shop can re-bal­ance your wheels with­out too much trou­ble.

But, if your car doesn’t track straight and pulls to the left or right, this could mean you need an align­ment – mean­ing mil­lime­tre-per­fect me­chan­i­cal ad­just­ments need to be made to get all your wheels point­ing in the right di­rec­tion. Any good tyre store can per­form wheel bal­anc­ing to­gether with align­ment, so if you’re go­ing get both checked any­way.

Did you know run-flat tyres are a type of tyre that al­low you to con­tinue driv­ing af­ter en­coun­ter­ing a punc­ture? Run-flat tyres (also known as self­sup­port­ing run-flat tyres) have stiff­ened side­walls that can carry the weight of the ve­hi­cle and al- low driv­ers to con­tinue driv­ing for a dis­tance af­ter en­coun­ter­ing a punc­ture. These tyres are tra­di­tion­ally fit­ted to mod­ern, pre­mium ve­hi­cles as a con­ve­nience fea­ture, in lieu of hav­ing driv­ers chang­ing to a spare wheel at the road­side.

In the event of a blowout, or struc­tural fail­ure of the tyre car­cass, it is no longer safe to con­tinue driv­ing even on a run-flat tyre. For this rea­son you should keep a spare wheel in the boot as a backup, even if it’s just a space-saver. Also, be­fore de­part­ing on long jour­neys you should check with your ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer if they have road­side as­sis­tance cov­er­age on your in­tended travel route. —

Check­ing the flu­ids in your car should be done regularly to keep it in tip-top con­di­tion in be­tween ser­vices.

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