For a component that gives the entire car its mobility (and the only point of contact with the road), the vast majority of drivers underestimate the importance of tyres – until it could be too late. Tyre maintenance should be treated as critically as engine maintenance. Which begs the question… when should you really get your tyres changed?
Nothing wears down the rubber like a dodgy road. It’s only natural that prolonged exposure to less-than-ideal conditions will accelerate the wear-and-tear of your tyres. Sometimes, there is little that we as individuals can do about this – but always worth the consideration. On a related note, temperature also plays a role. As temperature affects air pressure, any drastic change will be expressed through the tyres themselves, i.e. higher temperatures > artificial inflation; lower temperatures > deflation.
Do you spin your tyres on take-off? Take corners a little too harshly? Maybe you brake just slightly too suddenly? If you answered yes to any of these, I have bad news for you. You are cutting down the potential lifespan of your tyres by a noticeable margin. Be wary of how you treat your tyres. Best not test the limits simply because you can.
Alignment & Rotation
Incorrect alignment will not only cause tyres to wear down unevenly, but also at a quicker rate. Similarly, rotation is a necessary practice to ensure the tread wears down evenly.
The air pressure itself is what bears the weight of your car, hence why air pressure is such a vital aspect to vehicular maintenance. Remember to inflate your tyres to the recommended PSI on the placard, check your tyre’s air pressure on a semi-regular basis, and definitely prior to those extended Sunday drives.
If there’s one lesson to take away from this entire write up, it’s the impact that weight and weight distribution has on your tyres. It only stands to reason that loading and evenly spreading the weight of whatever precious cargo being transported in your vehicle will affect the wear of your tyres.
The warning signs
The legal standard for roadworthiness in this country dictates a minimum tyre tread depth of 1.6 mm (the groove around the wheel with the nubs). Beyond that, there are a few other key signs that it’s time to switch out the old tyres for a new set. Key signs such as a lack of tread – which means less traction and more skidding, especially on slick surfaces --, excessive vibrations when you move on the road, visible damage surfacing on the tyres themselves (bulges, blisters, sidewall cracking), and even excessive noise. In short, as with the human body, if it feels like something is off it never hurts to get it checked out.