Not counting the odd kick to check air pressure, when was the last time you really inspected your tyres?
Keeping your tyres in good shape will not only limit hazards, but could save you money over time.
The dangers of using sub-standard tyres can mean reduced road handling, increased braking distances, loss of grip and even blow-outs. Plus, since 2008 tyres have been one of the top three reasons vehicles fail the NCT.
Here are some things to watch out for:
Buying part worn tyres
Second-hand tyres can be tempting, but a close inspection will show if you are really getting value for money. First check for an E-Mark on the tyre sidewall, this means it meets minimum EU standards. This mark is comprised of a capital or lower case ‘e’ followed by a number, which indicates the member state of the EU that granted approval. From there, ensure there is a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm. This is vital, as anything less is illegal for use on a public road. If they pass the 1.6mm test, see how close they are to the minimum. They may not be worth buying at all.
Next, inspect for bulges, tears, scrapes and lumps. Consult your handbook to ensure the tyre is the right size, speed rating and correct load. Ask the age of the tyre, which should be found embossed on the tyre sidewall. Ensure the tyre is not more than six years old. Then look for the usual and obvious signs of aging, like fine cracks.
Adjusting your tyre pressure
When it comes to tyre pressure, you want to be ‘just right’. Over-inflated can prematurely wear tyres, while under-inflated can lead to higher fuel use and overheating. Newer cars are fitted with in-built monitors, while owners of older vehicles should check tyre pressure at least once a month. Your local garage should have these facilities, so all you need to do is check your car manual for the correct pressure and test while the car is relatively cold.
“Over-inflated can prematurely wear tyres, while under-inflated can lead to higher fuel use and overheating.”
Knowing when flats are fixable
If you fix your own flat tyres, know when a tyre can be patched with a home repair kit (i.e. when it’s under one-quarter of an inch tread) and when they need to be replaced. The instructions found in your repair kit will give some guidance on limitations of repair. If in doubt, ask a professional tyre service.
Invest in tyre rotation and alignment
Check your car manual for information on mileage interval recommendations for tyre rotations. If your vehicle pulls slightly to the left or right, it may be time to get your suspension checked and your tyres realigned. Once a year, while getting your vehicle serviced, ask your mechanic to check your wheel alignment.
“Once a year, while getting your vehicle serviced, ask your mechanic to check your wheel alignment.”
Download the RSA Guide to Tyre Safety.
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