Tyres we’ve all got them, some for looks, some for terrain types, and others simply for neccessity. But lets be honest here, how many of us pay much attention to them once fitted, unless we notice one looks a little soft.
Tyres play a crucial role in a vehicles safety. As the only parts of the car that physically touch the ground, they are one of the key features affecting the vehicle’s handling, braking and overall highway safety. What steps can you take to ensure that your tyres stay in optimal condition?
Performing regular checks is quick and easy, and a good investment of time for you and your family’s safety.
Visually inspect your tires on a regular basis. If you pick up on any of the following early warning signs, have a professional inspection performed, check and correct items that may be causing the condition, or replace the offending tyre.
- Cracking or cuts in the sidewalls.
- Uneven tread wear. This can be caused by improper inflation, misaligned wheels, damaged tires, or by problems with suspension parts.
- Excessively worn tread. Most modern tyres have tread wear indicator short bars running across the tread pattern, which signal the minimum allowable tread depth of 1/16-inch. When the tread wears down to these bars, it’s time for new tyres. Cheap tread wear gauges are available at auto-parts and tyre stores, or use a coin where the depth should be to the text on a 20p piece.
- Bulges or blisters. If you see a bulge or blister on the sidewall, replace the tyre at once. These signal potential weak spots that could lead to catastrophic tyre failure.
- Excessive vibration. Tyre vibration may be a sign a wheel is misaligned, unbalanced, or bent. It could also signify internal tyre damage. Don’t ignore vibration: Have the vehicle checked immediately.
Recent surveys have shown that as many as half the cars on the road may be riding on one or more underinflated tyres. Part of the problem is that tyres lose air through the rubber and at interfaces with the wheel and valve, sometimes so slowly that many people don’t realise it has happened. Seasonal temperature changes may also cause the tyre pressure to drop.
Because of sidewall flex more at lower tyre pressures, under inflation compromises the driving control that a tyre is designed to provide. Even a small pressure loss, such as 4 psi, can affect a vehicles handling capabilities, making it harder to control. It can also make the ride softer and the car to “wallow”. In addition, underinflated tyres lower a vehicle’s fuel economy, which will cost you more money. A sidewall that flexes too much can also cause heat to build up excessively, which can shorten a tyre’s life and possibly lead to a tread separation or blowout.
- Don’t judge tyre pressure by sight or kicking!
- Modern radial tyres bulge slightly, making them look a little underinflated, even when they’re not.
- At least once a month, use a tyre gauge to check the pressure in all four rubbers and don’t forget the spare.
- Set the tyres to the manufacturers recommended pressure, or the vehicle makers figures, this is usually printed on a sticker in the car, either on a door-jam, the fuel-filler door. Don’t just go by the “maximum inflation pressure” imprinted on the tyre.
- Measure the pressure with the tyres cold, before they’ve been driven more than a mile or two. As the vehicle is driven, the tyres heat up and the pressure rises, which makes it more difficult to set them to the correct cold tyre pressure.
If you are looking to buy a new set of rubbers for your truck but unsure what type to go with, take a look here for the types available that suit your driving needs. For the most common 4×4 rubbers check out our All Terrain tyre review.
If you keep to the above advice, it will keep you safe and save you hard earned cash … happy trucking