How to look after your tyres
Tyres are one of the most important parts of your vehicle, after all, they’re the only thing keeping you connected to the road! Therefore, it is imperative that you keep your tyres in as good a condition as possible, for as long as possible.
There are a few simple things you can do that will prolong your tyre life, keeping you safe on the road:
- Regular tyre checks
- Rotate your tyres
- Check that your tyres are inflated correctly
- Check how old your tyres are
- Get a wheel alignment
- Get your tyres balanced
Regular tyre checks
You should check your tyres weekly. This will let you spot any problems that may have arisen with your tyres, giving you an opportunity to fix them before they turn into a much bigger issue – the last thing you need is a tyre blowing out at 100 kph!
The things you should be taking a keen look at include tread wear and depth, tyre pressure, defects, punctures or cracks.
Rotate your tyres
Regular tyre rotations means that your tyres will wear more evenly. Different vehicles use their tyres differently, for example, some cars wear their front tyres more, whilst some wear their rear tyres (yes commodore owners, we’re looking at you).
By rotating your tyres, it prevents one pair from wearing out much quicker than the other, allowing you to go much further on a complete set of tyres.
Check your tyres’ inflation
If your tyres aren’t inflated to the correct pressure, they can wear much quicker than they (ordinarily) should, meaning you will have to replace them more often.
Additionally, having tyres that are under or over inflated can reduce their performance. Some effects include:
- Decreased handling
- Worse fuel economy
- More prone to damage (e.g more likely to sustain damage after running over a pothole)
- Increased road noise
If you don’t have access to an air pressure sensor, there are visual signs that tell you whether your tyres are under or over inflated. Over-inflated tyres wear the centre of the tyre more than the outside, whilst under-inflated tyres wear the edges of the tyre more than the centre.
Whilst it is not essential, you may want to consider using nitrogen to inflate your tyres. Nitrogen is better at maintaining pressure than regular old H2O.
Check how old your tyres are
Driving on old tyres is a major risk. Even if the tyres don’t get used, they still become less effective as they get older. Being exposed to the elements can cause the rubber to degrade, cracks to form and the steel belts inside the tyres to separate.
Most tyre manufacturers recommend that you replace your tyres every 10 years, regardless of their appearance.
Get a wheel alignment
Over time, wheel angles change as a result of deforming and wear of various rubber bushings in the vehicle and sagging of the springs.
Wheels that aren’t properly aligned will cause your tyres to wear unevenly, and can also reduce your car’s handling and braking performance, making it much less safe on the road.
Whilst there are no specific requirements, as a general rule of thumb you should get a wheel alignment roughly every two years, however it should be done more often if your car has wider tyres or if it’s a sporty car.
It is often recommended that you get a wheel alignment when new tyres are installed, this will ensure that the tyres are performing and wearing correctly from the start.
Get your tyres balanced
Tyre balancing, also referred to as ‘wheel balancing’, ensures that all of your wheels are balanced so that none of them are putting excess load on the steering components. If they are, this can cause uneven tyre wear.
The most common signs of out-of-balance wheels are:
- Steering vibration
- Uneven and faster tyre wear
- Reduced fuel economy
- Uneven driving experience
Technicians use a calibrated spin balancer to test the tyre and wheel assembly’s static and dynamic balance. This process highlights heavy and light spots, determining where small weights can be added to more evenly distribute weight and ensure the wheel rotates smoothly.
Tyre balancing ensures a smooth driving experience, elongates your tyre life and keeps you safe on the road. Remember, tyre balance changes over time and is impacted by various factors, such as tyre wear. You should get your wheels balanced every time you get new tyres, or even get them balanced every time you do a tyre rotation.
You may be reading this article and feel a little overwhelmed, but don’t worry, your local mechanics will help you out with the entire process. By keeping these six simple things in mind, and undertaking them when required, you will improve not only your tyre life, but also your safety, braking performance, fuel economy, comfort and more.