Keeping safe on the road is not only about being an alert and cautious driver, it is also about making sure that your car is always in tip-top condition. An essential part of that is ensuring that your tyres are in a roadworthy condition – after all, the tyres are the point of contact between your vehicle and the road. Worn tyres reduce the performance of your car and low tread depths decrease the effectiveness of braking, steering, and even accelerating – all of which are important in staying safe on the road. Moreover, in wet weather, tread depth plays a crucial role in dispersing water to maintain a good grip.
Checklist for tyres
Tyres should be inspected on a regular basis. Here are some of the most important things to look out for:
- Check for punctures, penetrations, cuts and bulges.
- Cuts in the tyre could allow moisture to reach the casing plies. This is harmful for both textile and steel casings and will affect safety and tyre life.
- Uneven tyre wear is a sign that wheel alignment needs attention.
- Inner and outer edge wear. If both inner and outer edges are worn, it can suggest that the tyres have been run at a pressure which is too low at normal speeds.
- Irregular bald spot, also known as cupping – is usually caused by worn shock absorbers, a worn suspension, or even loose wheel bearings.
- Missing valve caps should be replaced, since they are there to prevent dirt from clogging the valves, which could cause loss in air pressure.
- Tighten wheel studs/nuts to the correct torque setting when mounting new tyres – also check for loose or missing wheel nuts.
- Check tread depth on all tyres and replace well before they reach the regulatory minimum depth of 1.00 mm.
Over or under inflation reduces the contact between the tyre and the road and also shortens the lifespan of your tyres. Make sure tyres are always inflated to the right pressure for your car. If you are not sure, check the Owner’s Manual or the display on the driver’s door side panel.
Don’t forget to also check that your spare wheel is in good shape, too, including a properly inflated tyre and that you have the correct tools to replace it. You never know when you might need it!
Maintaining your car’s tyres
- Make sure the size and speed/loading ratings of your tyres conform to the specifications in the Owner’s Manual.
- Check tyres and rims for any accidental damage after impacting with potholes/curb stones or other obstacles in the road.
- Be sure to have your tyres, brakes, shock absorbers and rims checked when servicing the car.
- Car wheel alignment should be tested at regular intervals to obtain even tread wear and maximise lifespan of tyres.
Safety tip: If a tyre bursts, do not apply the brakes, rather use the gears to slow down the car. A sudden change in direction or braking on a flat tyre can result in loss of control. Rather risk losing one wheel than damaging more of your car!
Spare wheel safety
Your spare wheel is only designed to be a temporary solution and should never be a permanent replacement for regular wheels.
Remember, the four tyres on your car are some of the most important components on the vehicle and the only point of contact between you and the road. Always refer to the owner’s manual for all tyre pressure specifications and other related information. If you suspect any damage to the tyres – consult a tyre expert!
For more information on car insurance, visit www.miway.co.za
[By Rory Judd, MiWay head of online marketing]
MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)