Wheels and tyres are obviously key elements on a car. But did you know that a significant percentage of car accidents each year are caused by damaged, under maintained or otherwise problematic car tyres? Driving safely is important (check out our eight tips for driving safely to find out more), but all the safe driving tips in the world won’t help if you’re driving on badly maintained or installed tyres. If you want to make sure that your vehicle is in tip top shape, then read on to find out our top tyre safety tips.
1. Tyre Safety Begins with the Right Tyres
Tyres come in different sizes, and it’s important that your vehicle has tyres of the correct size. You can find this information in your vehicle’s manual. Not only this though, but all four tyres should be the same size, the same brand and all replaced at the same time. This will mean that the car has equal traction on all sides, decreasing chances of accidents happening.
2. Wheel Alignment is Important Too!
When replacing tyres, wheel alignment should also be checked, since badly aligned wheels will effect how tyres are worn down over time and therefore increase the chances of a tyre bursting. This is one reason why using a reputable tyre installation service is preferable to replacing tyres yourself. A tyre installation service won’t just replace your tyres, they’ll also check wheel alignment and other things, such as steering mechanism and wheel bearings to ensure that your wheels are in great shape. If you notice that your tyres have uneven wear, then it’s important to take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible, since this indicates that something is wrong with the wheel alignment on your vehicle.
3. Tyre Pressure
Under inflated tyres are one of the biggest causes of tyre related accidents. When there isn’t enough air in a tyre, huge amounts of heat build up, making a tyre blow out that much more likely. Tyre pressure should be checked at least twice a month, and always before making a long journey. Check pressure early in the morning when temperatures are low, since pressure readings can vary depending on the outside temperature. Not sure what your tyre pressure should be? Check your vehicle manual, or the writing on the outside of the tyre itself. Many vehicles also list ideal pressure on the inside of the driver’s door close to the locking mechanism.
4. Checking Tread Depth
Tyres have tread, which means the pattern you see on the outside of the tyre, in order to create friction with the road and to provide traction. When the tread on a tyre wears down, tyres become slippery and can skid when you brake. Fortunately, measuring tyre tread is simple. All you need to do is make sure that there is at least 1.6 mm of tread on each tyre. Once you get close to this limit, it’s time to replace your tyres!
5. Winter vs. Summer Tyres
In some countries it’s required to have two sets of tyres, one for summer and one for winter. Even if you don’t live in an area with this requirement, you might want to consider having two sets anyway. If you live in a place that often gets below freezing temperatures, winter tyres are made of specially designed rubber that can withstand low temperatures and stay flexible. This means less chance of blow outs and other damage. Winter tyres will often also have deeper tread to help improve traction on slippery surfaces. Having the right kind of tyres for bad weather can mean reducing your chances of weather related accidents.
6. Think About a TPMS
A TPMS is a tyre pressure monitoring system, a sensor that sends an alert to your vehicle if one or more of your tyres loses more than 25% of its pressure. These devices can be life savers, quite literally. It might be worth having a TPMS fitted to your vehicle, especially if you drive a lot, since you’ll then know that your tyre pressure is constantly being monitored, and can take appropriate action before a problem becomes acute.
7. Get Your Tyres Rotated
Tyres wear out at different speeds, generally meaning that front tyres wear out before rear tyres. Having your tyres rotated after around 10,000 KM of driving will mean that you get longer life out of your tyres. During rotation, a mechanic will switch your front and back tyres (depending on your car manufacturer’s instructions), as well as checking tyres for any damage or signs of uneven wear that might indicate that your wheel alignment is off.
8. Don’t Forget the Spare!
Finally, whilst keeping in mind all of the above tips, don’t forget to include your spare tyre in any general tyre maintenance that you do, such as checking tyre pressure. If something happens and you need that spare tyre, it should be in the same great shape as all the rest of your tyres!
Proper maintenance and installation of wheels and tyres is incredibly important, and can mean reducing your chances of accidents, as well as lowering the risk of getting a flat tyre. Lower accident risks means lower insurance premiums too, so you might end up saving a few Rands on your monthly bills as well. Stay up to date with tyre and wheel maintenance- those few minutes might save your life.
Main subject: wheels and tyres
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