Tread carefully: Tyre safety maintenance tips

As a motorist, you face daily struggles as you journey off to your destination - reckless drivers, annoying traffic and widespread potholes are some of the most common ones. The last thing you want to be dealing with on your way to work or an important appointment is a flat or burst tyre – even more frustrating during the cold winter days.

A worn or flat tyre not only causes unnecessary delays, but it can also be extremely dangerous, especially on busy roads or in extreme weather conditions, when good tyre tread is needed to maintain grip on wet roads.

Despite being one of the most important components of any vehicle, tyres are often overlooked by drivers, who tend to realise the effects of wear and tear only when it’s too late. Remember that you will not be covered by your car insurance company if your vehicle is involved in an accident and it does not meet the roadworthy requirements as stated by road traffic legislation.

Check for wear and tear

Perform a thorough and informed check for wear and tear on your tyres – if you’re unsure, the next time you fill up, ask the petrol attendant check with you. Unfortunately, a quick or superficial check on pressure won’t crack it this time around. To identify wear and tear, it’s important to understand potential patterns and the implications they might have on your drive…

It’s where it’s worn which counts!

  • Excessive wear on the outer or inner edges of your tyres could is most likely as a result of poor wheel alignment
  • Wear in the central areas of your tyres suggests over inflation.
  • Cupping wear - a form of diagonal balding or scalloping on the tyre - should be cause for concern, as it points to a worn, bent or otherwise compromised suspension. If you identify this type of wear on your tyres, make an appointment with a mechanic immediately.

Tread carefully

Smoothness is not a good thing when it comes to your tyres! Driving with smooth (or balding) tyres is extremely dangerous, particularly in wet conditions, when they can cause aqua-planing (a loss of tyre traction when driving fast on wet roads) and result in an accident. It is very important to keep a close eye on your tyre tread, ensuring that you maintain a minimum depth of 1mm across all four tyres. If you suspect that any of your tyres might be looking overly smooth, it might be time to check in with a professional.

Under pressure

Many drivers are often not properly informed on this – incorrectly inflating your tyres is one of the major causes of tyre damage.

  • Over-inflation reduces traction and performance, as well as causes uneven tyre wear.
  • Under-inflation causes too much of the tyre's surface area to touch the road, which increases friction. Increased friction can cause the tyres to overheat, which can lead to premature wear, tread separation and blowouts.

Make sure that you are pumping your tyres to the right levels – you can find the correct inflation levels in your user manual or on the side of the driver door or fuel cap. Remember, tyre pressures should also be adjusted depending on the load you’re carrying, so don’t forget to make the necessary adjustments if you’re heading off on a big family road trip.

Check for gashes, gaps and bulges

Many drivers overlook this frequently – it’s important that you do regular inspections of your tyres, checking for any irregularities, punctures, gashes or bulges. Look out for any missing valve caps, which can result in a loss of air pressure, and ensure that no wheel nuts or screws have gone amiss.

Your “fifth wheel”

Things happen on our roads, a puncture or deflation can strike at any time, it’s safer to always be ready to rectify the situation with a functional spare tyre and get back on your journey. You will come to need your spare tyre one day, so it’s vital that you don’t forget this critical lifeline when doing your checks. 

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