Your tyres play an integral role in the way your car handles and brakes. As such, keeping your tyres in good condition is vital to your safety. The information below will help you look after your tyres so that they stay safer longer.

Under-inflation

When tyres are under inflated they increase the rolling resistance of your car. This means the engine has to work harder to push the car along. And this means higher fuel bills.

Paying more at the petrol station isn’t the only downside of tyres that aren’t properly inflated. The increased stress created between the road surface and an under-inflated tyre causes it to wear faster and less evenly than it needs to. Worn tyres are not only expensive to replace, they also compromise the handling and braking ability of your car and threaten your safety. Even worse, excessive wear can make a tyre prone to blow-out.

Wear on both edges of a tyre indicates prolonged under-inflation.

Over-inflation

The area of contact between a tyre and the road is about the size of a man’s hand. By inflating a tyre above its recommended pressure you decrease this tyre-print, thereby reducing the amount of handling and breaking traction the car has.

Wear along the centre of a tyre indicates prolonged over-inflation.

Checking Your Pressure

As the pressure of your tyres is such an important consideration you should check it regularly – tyre specialists recommend at least once a month. There doesn’t have to be anything wrong with your tyres for them to lose a little pressure. Air will naturally escape through rubber over a period of time.

When checking your pressure, use a pressure gauge and do it when the tyres are cold. Checking the pressure on tyres that are warm (i.e. immediately after the car has been driven for any length of time) will give a false reading, as air expands when heated.

Your vehicle’s handbook should indicate what the correct tyre pressure for your car is. Sometimes this is also noted on a plate on the inside edge of the driver’s door, or under the bonnet.

Remember to check the spare as well.

Other Wear Factors

Certain other factors affect tyre wear. Most commonly – driving at excessive speed and emergency braking. Indeed, emergency breaking can leave dangerous bald spots on your tyres and you should have your tyres checked by a professional after any extreme braking event.

Driving over potholes or hitting the curb with your tyres can cause damage to the tyre structure. Inspect your tyres regularly for cuts, bulges or gouges. As these imperfections can lead to tyre failure (rapid or explosive deflation) you should have them checked by a tyre professional as soon as possible.

Valves

The valves on your wheels are essential to the integrity of your tyres. Make sure they are in good condition, are functioning properly and have a well fitting dust cap. A tyre that goes noticeably soft regularly could be suffering from a faulty valve.

Make sure you have new valves fitted every time you change your tyres.

Balance and Alignment

Unbalanced or misaligned wheels will cause undue wear on your tyres. If you see wear down one edge of a tyre you probably need a wheel alignment. If the car or the steering wheel shakes at higher speeds you may need your wheels balanced.

A good automotive maintenance plan includes a wheel balance and alignment every 6 – 12 months.

It Doesn’t Cost Much

Keeping your tyres in tip-top condition can be as simple as checking the pressure regularly, keeping an eye out for damage and staying alert to issues of balance and alignment. Simple observation and a top-up of air every few weeks will save you money in gas and tyre bills, and could help keep you from becoming another tragic traffic statistic.




Learn more about safe tyres in this video.

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