Take care of your tyres

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

Low pro­file tyres of­fer bet­ter cor­ner­ing abil­ity than the old 100 per­cent va­ri­ety - and the mark­ings on a tyre give a lot of in­for­ma­tion.

For ex­am­ple, 185/70 VR 15, means the tyre is 185mm wide and has a 70 pro­file on a 15-inch wheel. The VR means it is suit­able for speeds up to 240 kilo­me­tres an hour.

How­ever, with 50 and lower tyre pro­files, there are cer­tain dan­gers to be avoided. To my cost I clipped the kerb in my Mercedes SLK and al­though dam­age to the rim was neg­li­gi­ble, the tyre had a small chunk gouged out of the sidewall mak­ing re­newal nec­es­sary.

ok, my fault for mis­judg­ing the dis­tance from the kerb; my only ex­cuse is that vis­i­bil­ity on the SLK is very bad all round. No won­der most own­ers fit the radar park­ing de­vices. As a con­firmed skin­flint, I ne­glected that op­tion and am now se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing it.

Check­ing all tyres vis­ually at least once a week is rec­om­mended and ev­ery cou­ple of weeks they should be checked with a de­cent tyre gauge.

on many cars, the SLK in­cluded, a warn­ing comes up on the fas­cia to tell you when even one tyre has lost pres­sure. It is then nec­es­sary to put in air.

Low pro­files must have the cor­rect pres­sures if they are to do their job ef­fi­ciently. The tread is flat and too high a pres­sure makes for a con­vex shape. Con­versely, un­der-in­fla­tion leads to a tread with a hol­low con­tact patch. Both mean a re­duc­tion in cor­ner­ing abil­ity and rapid wear.

Tyre makeup and de­sign have come an in­cred­i­bly long way over the past 20 or so years to keep up with the high per­for­mance, rapid ac­cel­er­a­tion and incredible brak­ing of mod­ern ve­hi­cles, but cor­rect pres­sures are es­sen­tial.

Fuel-sav­ing is a big sell­ing point on any ve­hi­cle and tyres play an im­por­tant role in achiev­ing this. Mod­ern tyres may be con­sid­er­ably lighter than ear­lier ones. Rolling re­sis­tance is an­other im­por­tant fac­tor to be con­sid­ered. As a tyre ro­tates un­der load the side walls flex, as does the tread it­self. Ev­ery bit of flex­ing costs en­ergy and in­creases fuel con­sump­tion. Spe­cial com­pounds have brought a big re­duc­tion in rolling re­sis­tance and that ben­e­fits us all.

What sort of tyres you buy should

largely de­pend on the car you drive and how fast you drive. It would be a waste of money to go for, say, a VR rated tyre for your an­cient Mor­ris Mi­nor, but equally it would be dan­ger­ous folly to fit tyres with an S sym­bol (180km/h) to a car ca­pa­ble of 270kmh.

In­sur­ance com­pa­nies would not look kindly on an ac­ci­dent claim where high speed was in­volved but the tyres were un­suit­able for it. Used tyres may be fit­ted if cash is in short sup­ply, but vet them care­fully.

Get align­ment pro­fes­sion­ally checked when new tyres are fit­ted and at least once a year re­gard­less. Ex­am­ine treads and walls reg­u­larly for signs of wear.


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