Tyre guide for beginners

March 2016

Tyres affect not only a vehicle’s comfort and handling, but also the safety of driver and passengers. Yet they are often neglected by motorists. Here are a few simple tyre maintenance tips to help keep you, and your passengers, safe.

Consider tyre pressure
Over-inflation reduces the cushioning power of the tyre, making it more susceptible to impact, penetrations and abrasion. It also reduces road-tyre contact and thus has a negative impact on the handling of the vehicle.

Under-inflation can cause tyre bursts. Interestingly, under-inflated tyres have more rolling resistance, which increases fuel consumption.

There should be a sticker on the car, usually inside the driver’s door, indicating the correct inflation pressures. If you don’t see this, or your car does not have this sticker, refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Remember to check tyre pressure when the tyres are cold as friction heats the tyres and increases pressure, making it difficult to identify tyres that are under-inflated.

Remember to check the spare as well! 

Keep an eye on tread depth
The law states that a vehicle’s tyres must have at least one millimetre of tread. Some tyres have tread wear indicators in the tread pattern. If the tread on the tyre is level with these indicators, the tyre must be replaced. A simple way of checking the tyre tread is to insert a match horizontally between the tread grooves. If the match is level with the surface the tread is still fine. If the match protrudes it might be a good time to replace the tyre.

Remember that tyres with insufficient tread are not roadworthy. This means that your vehicle insurance claim could be rejected.

Regularly check wheel alignment and balance
When you check tread depth, remember to check the inside and outside edges of the tyres too. Uneven wear could be a sign that your car is out of alignment. This impacts the vehicle’s handling, and the lifespan of the tyres.

In addition, if your vehicle develops a vibration that you can feel through the steering wheel at a certain speed, it’s time to have your tyres rebalanced.

Look for tyre damage
Regularly check your vehicle’s tyres for nicks, bulges, cracks and cuts. If the damage can’t be repaired it will mean replacing the tyre. Be sure to check tyres, and rims, for any accidental damage after hitting potholes and curbs etc.

A guide to replacing tyres
Remember these three basic considerations when replacing tyres

Your driving style
Do you do a lot of kilometres or do you like to push your car’s capabilities? If so, check the performance characteristics of a tyre to ensure it suits your style of driving.

Your vehicle
The tyres that come with your car are selected because they’re well suited to your car. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the best ones for you. Check the owner’s manual for other recommendations.

Your budget
Tyres could be considered a grudge purchase, but for safety reasons always buy the best quality you can afford.

Finally, here are a few quick tips for replacing your vehicle’s tyres:

·         Tyres should be replaced with the same size designation as recommended by the vehicle or tyre manufacturer.

·         Tyre brand, size and tread pattern must be the same on each axle.

·         All four tyres should be of the same size, speed rating and construction.

·         Stay away from used tyre imports and counterfeit tyres.  

In conclusion, if you suspect any damage, consult a tyre expert.  Remember, it is better to be safe than sorry!

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