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How safe are your tyres?

Published on: 21 July 2014

Tyre safety is crucial to road safetyKeeping 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 with road-worthy tyres. Worn tyres reduce the performance of your car and low tread depths decrease the effectiveness of braking, steering, and even acceleration – all of which are important in staying safe on the road.

Checklist for tyres

Tyres should be inspected on a regular basis, here are some of the most important things you should keep in mind:

  • Check for punctures, penetrations, cuts and bulges
  • Cuts in the tyre could allow damp to reach the casing plies. This is harmful for both textile and steel casings and will affect safety and tyre life
  • Wheel alignment - misaligned wheels will lead to excessive tyre wear
  • Inner- and outer-edge wear. If both inner and outer edges are worn, it usually suggests that the tyres have been run at a pressure which is too low at normal speeds. 
  • Irregular bald spotting. Also known as cupping - this is usually caused by worn shock absorbers, worn suspension bushes, 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
  • Torque wheel studs/nuts to correct 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 to reduce the risk of aquaplaning on wet roads.

Tyre pressure

Over and under-inflation reduces the contact between the tyre and the road and also shortens the tyre’s lifespan. Make sure that tyres are always inflated at the right pressure for your car. If you are not sure, check your car’s manual.

Don’t forget to also check the tyre pressure on your spare tyre – you never know when you might need it!

Maintaining your tyres

  • Make sure your tyres,  size and speed/loading ratings 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 maximum service life.

Safety tip: If a tyre bursts, do not apply the brakes; rather use the momentum and gears to slow down the car. A sudden change in direction or braking will result in loss of control over the car. Rather lose one rim than damage more of your car!  

Spare tyre safety

Your spare tyre or “donut” is only designed to be a temporary solution and should never be a permanent replacement for your normal tyres. It is therefore recommended that you don’t drive more than 120km or faster than 88km/h on your spare tyre.

Remember, the four tyres on your car are the most important components 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!