How to take care of your car’s tyres
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.