10 Tips for Tyre Safety
Safety on the road is each driver’s responsibility. Tyre safety is part of the process of maintaining a safely functioning vehicle. While there may be more to the complex design and structure of modern tyres, some basic tips will help you in this quest for safe driving.
The trouble is that tyres are so reliable these days. ‘Fit and forget’, ‘Always in a hurry to refuel’ could describe the motorist’s attitude to their tyres.
Yet they still operate in the same service environment as they always did, so consider some basic tips which might help you get the best out of them.
- The design of the valve that holds the air inside the tyre hasn’t changed in 100 years. Their performance is boosted if you do one simple thing- fit a valve cap to keep dirt and dust from under the valve seat, which will cause it to leak air.
- Check your tyre pressures around once a month using the same gauge. 50 years ago, motorists had to do this weekly, because tubes leaked 4 p.s.i (30 kPa ) a week. Nowadays, once every three months with tubeless tyres. But an eyeball check in between does no harm, but it is not reliable. A tyre can be well down in pressure before it becomes readily apparent that it is going flat.
- Horse and buggy drivers carried a pocket knife to remove stones from their horse’s hoofs. Even in these security conscious days, it’s not a bad idea, particularly for country motorists, to check your tyres for stones and puncturing objects periodically. Stones can get caught in the groove, and be punched right through the casing over time, ruining it.
- Vehicles with I.R.S. wear their inside shoulders on the rear, right down to the steel, without being seen from the outside. The wheel well is full of tyre and rim, and the part you can see, may still have lots of tread pattern. So check from under the rear bumper sometimes if your tyre’s life is getting on a bit. Better still, put the car on a hoist, or have your serviceman check it.
- If a tyre keeps going down and there is no puncture and the valve is O.K., suspect the rim! Rims can crack due to fatigue in service, generally on caravans and trailers, because they’re run at maximum pressures.
- Wet road performance declines gradually and progressively as the tyre wears down. It doesn’t all happen at once, when the tread pattern wear indicator bars appear. Have a good look at your tyres before the wet season starts- it could be good insurance.
- You get more punctures in the wet, in the last 10% of the tread life, than at any other time. This is because wet rubber cuts easier than when dry. So to get that last 10% out of a punctured tyre by repairing it and refitting , might be false economy. You possibly will get another one!
- Unidirectional tyres are just that. Unidirectional! You might just have to put up with the noise.
- If you’re going for a long, hot trip, the air pressure hose at your service station is your friend. An extra 4 p.s.i. (30 kPa), and it’s free, will give you more margin of safety.
- If you do get a puncture, make sure that your repairman strips the tyre from the rim, and has a look inside for signs of casing breakdown (run flat) or secondary damage from the point of the puncturing object. Those plugs put in from the outside are quick, but your safety is more important than his time! And NEVER allow more than one plug in the hole- it’s damaged, and dangerous, if the hole is that big.