12 Dec Tyre Maintenance Explained
When it comes to owning a car, properly maintaining your tyres is an absolute must. Prompt and effective tyre maintenance keeps your car in good driving condition and keeps you safe on the road. Driving your car when your tyres aren’t at the correct air pressure, the tread is worn, or your wheels aren’t properly aligned, can put you at risk on the road — especially if the roads are wet. A huge chunk of optimal road safety practices comes down to effective tyre maintenance.
You need to be keeping your tyres at the correct air pressure, you need to be getting scheduled wheel alignments, and you need to be getting your tyres rotated. Car owners can also change their driving habits to prolong the life of their tyres.
Tyre Pressure: the pillar of tyre maintenance
Your tyre pressure or air pressure is a big one. First of all, driving with low tyre pressure actually negatively affects your fuel economy. More importantly though, driving on low tyre pressure also causes your tyres to wear quicker and much more unevenly. Plus, driving on a highway with low tyre pressure is dangerous in itself as it hugely increases the risk of your tyre blowing — which results in loss of control of your car.
How often should I check my tyre pressure?
Once a month. You can buy a digital gauge to check your tyre pressure yourself, or you can just do it at your local service station. Digital gauges will usually give you a more reliable reading, but service station gauges can definitely be relied on. You want your tyres to be as cool as they can so you can get the most accurate reading. So, head to your closest service station in the morning before driving anywhere else.
How do I put air in my tyres?
First up, you want to set the gauge to the correct PSI. The correct PSI for your tyres should be on a small sticker on the inside of your driver’s door. If it’s not there, it might be on the inside of your fuel cap door or inside your glove box lid. Most older cars will have all tyres set to the same PSI but newer models might specify different pressures for the front and rear tyres — so read it carefully.
Once you’ve found your PSI and set it on the gauge, take the dust cap off of your tyre’s valve and attach the pump to the valve. Older air gauges will just attach and start pumping but some newer gauges will have a small handle on the side of the pump to squeeze as you do it. Once your tyres have reached the set PSI, the machine will beep. Then, you can take the pump off and reattach the dust cap.
Wheel Alignments & Rotations
A wheel alignment is where your suspension is adjusted so your wheels hit the road at the correct angle and travel in a straight line. Not having your wheels aligned regularly can result in uneven tyre wear and can compromise your safety on the road.
You should get a wheel alignment roughly every 10,000 kilometres driven, or if you think it’s out.
How to tell if your wheel alignment is out:
- Your car pulls to one side while travelling on a flat, straight road
- Your steering wheel shakes
- The handling of your steering wheel feels loose
- Your steering wheel doesn’t naturally return to the centre after turning a corner
- You’re seeing uneven or abnormal tyre wear
Wheel alignments are completed by mechanics and the cost varies. It’ll be cheaper to complete a wheel alignment on a smaller car than a larger car, because it takes longer to complete on a larger car. So, a small car’s wheel alignment will be cheaper than on a larger car like a 4WD or SUV. You should budget at least $125 for a wheel alignment.
Your front tyres will wear much quicker than your rear so it’s good to get your tyres rotated at the same time as your wheel alignment or when you get your car serviced.
Buy New Tyres When You Need Them
New tyres can get pretty expensive, especially if you’re getting four at once. But if your tyres are worn, buy new ones. Worn tyres will have worn down tread. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, it’s kind of like when you’ve owned a pair of runners for some time and the grip on the bottom starts to wear down and the bottom of your shoe is ‘bald’. The same happens with your tyres.
Driving on bald tyres is dangerous in itself. Driving in wet weather though is especially dangerous and can have catastrophic consequences.
Adjust your driving habits
Along with proper tyre maintenance habits, you can also change your driving habits to help prolong the life of your tyres.
Avoid hitting gutters & potholes
This is likely to put your wheels off balance or mess up the alignment. It can also do damage to the tyre sidewalls.
Take corners, dirt roads & bumpy roads slowly
You should drive over dirt roads and bumpy bitumen roads as slowly as possible as your tyres don’t have as much of a chance to grip to the road. Turning corners or travelling around roundabouts quickly will unevenly wear you tyres too.