1. Tyre Sidewall Markings
The letters and numbers on your tyre tell you: how high wide the tyre is (Width), how high the tyre wall is (Profile), how fast they can go (Speed rating), what weight they can carry (Load index) and the diameter of the inside rim (Wheel size).
2. Tyre Age
You can tell the age of a tyre by looking at the tyre. The rule of thumb is to never use tyres that are more than six years old. Have a look at what is denoted as G on the illustration. This is called the DOT code. The date of manufacture is stamped into this code. The codes are either three or four digits long. Three digit codes are manufactured before the year 2000. If a tyre shows 178, for example, it was made in the 17th week of 1988. If there is a small triangle next to it, it will mean it was made in the 90’s. After 2000, the code was switched to a four number code. So, if you see 3003, it means it was made in the 30th week of 2003.
3. Tread Depth
It is very important to regularly check your tyre tread depth. It is a legal requirement that tyres have at least 1.6mm of tread. Anything below this then they need replacing as soon as possible. A useful way to test this is by conducting the 20p test. Insert a 20p into the tread, if you can see the band around the outside, then your tyre needs changing.
4. Tyre Pressure
It is vital that you know the correct tyre pressure of your vehicle. Ensure that you check your vehicle handbook to find the correct tyre pressure. This extends your tyre life, reduces the risk of accidents and avoids unnecessary expense.
5. Over / Under Inflating
Both over and under inflating tyres can be somewhat detrimental to them. They will wear out prematurely and could only last half the lifetime. It can also cause a loss of traction, due to the change in grip. And, can create a more uncomfortable ride.
Under inflation can be as dangerous. If the tyre is underinflated, more of it touches the road and it creates more friction. Increased friction can lead to the tyre overheating and cause premature wear, tread separation, and blow outs.
6. Wheel Alignment
Wheels can lose their alignment in several ways. You could hit pot holes, curbs, or experience simple wear and tear. You can tell that the alignment is off if you feel like the steering wheel is pulling while you are driving. Lightly hold the steering when and, if the car starts pulling either left or right, you will need to get your alignment done. Try and have your alignment checked every 50 000 kms. You can, at the same time, have your wheels balanced and rotated.
7. Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems
Tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) constantly monitor the tyre pressure of all four tyres. The driver is alerted if there is any change in this pressure or temperature.
8. Winter Tyres
Winter tyres work to their optimum levels in temperatures constantly under 7*C. They contain natural rubber and a less affected by icy or snowy conditions. Winter tyres also contain extremely high grip levels in wintry conditions, improving car safety.
9. Runflat Tyres
Runflat tyres have reinforced sidewalls which ensure they can travel a limited distance without air. Due to this, there is no need for a road-side repair if you occur a flat tyre. It is not advisable to repair a runflat tyre, it is recommended to replace if punctured.
When a wheel turns, the weight along the rotating axis needs to be properly balanced. If this is not happening, there can be wobbling and vibrations. Wheel balancing equalizes the combined weights of the tyres, so that it can run smoothly. It is recommended to do a wheel balance every 10 000 kms.