Tyres are just like the footwear of vehicles. Get ones that are of inferior quality and you will find that you run a little slower than what your personal best could be. Don those that are worn out and comes a rainy day, you will end up slipping, sliding and even hurting yourself.
Just like how you cannot go far or fast barefoot, tyres make or break cars. Whether it is a Toyota or a Lamborghini, an excellent and well-maintained pair of tyres is essential.
Main Causes of Tyre Damage
There are several reasons behind tyre damage and if you are a driver or a prospective driver, it would be good to take these as a checklist to prevent further tyre damage.
First things first, driving habits. Fast turns are not recommended. Whenever you send your spinning wheels in a turn on acceleration, your wheels lose rubber on the asphalt road and the tread on your tyres get worn down.
Your driving habits may not always be the culprit for tyre damage. Driving on bumpy roads takes a toll on your wheels as well.
For example, driving on gravel roads will cause increased friction on your tyres. What’s more, loose pieces of gravel are highly abrasive on tyres.
If they do get stuck in the grooves of your tyres, your tyres are likely to get chipped off.
Foreign objects like stones could seriously damage your tyres as well. Small ones could get stuck in your tyre grooves and chip your tyres while big sharp ones could puncture your tyres and result in reduced air pressure.
Pay attention when driving near construction areas where debris such as gravel and stones are commonly found.
Inaccurate alignment leads to tyre scrub where your tyres shift while it’s in motion.
Your tyres will be excessively worn down and in more serious situations, may cause steering wheel pulling (car pulls to one side) which without a doubt, is dangerous to yourself and your passengers.
If your car features front-wheel drive (FWD), it’s great as there is better traction for slippery roads. The downside is that overtime, the tyres in front will face added pressure and wear out quicker.
Tyre Pressure & Load
Never exceed the load-carrying limit stated on tyres.
The surplus weight causes your tyres to heat up and there is potential risk of failure. Additionally, if your tyres are over or under-inflated, you may realize an uneven wear pattern on them.
This is due to uneven pressure on your treads; over-inflated tyres wear down the center of the tread while under-inflated tyres wear down the sides of the tread.
When To Replace Tyres
1. Reaching 1.6mm in Tread Depth
Just like how thermometers indicate that you’re running a fever and need a check-up from the neck up, tyres are equipped with tread-wear indicators that will highlight to you when they need to be replaced.
They are essentially small blocks of rubber sitting in the tread grooves at regular intervals. The space between these indicators will get closer together and lower in depth as the tyres go through wear and tear.
In Singapore, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) requires tyres to be replaced when they reach 1.6mm in tread depth.
Even if your tyres have sufficient tread, after periods of 5-10 years, the rubber may crack with age and hence, be sure to check once a year after 5 years of usage. If you have tyres aged over 10 years, they will need to be immediately replaced as the risk of failure is extremely high.
2. When Tyres Are Damaged
Beware of troublemakers such as nails, metals, glass and other sharp foreign objects. If you are unable to steer clear of such objects on the road, it is likely that these sharp items will pierce into your tyres and cause punctures.
Other than punctures, take note of cracks, cuts, splits, holes and bulges which are a sign of weak spots that could eventually lead to tyre failure. A good habit is to get your tyre shop to check everytime you go for servicing.
3. When Tyres Are Leaking
Most of the problems listed above come with the consequence of tyre leaks. This means your tyres loses air pressure every few days.
Driving around with under-inflated tyres will cause uneven wear and on top of that, it will cause your vehicle to use up more fuel.
4. Every 40K Or Every 2 Years
The average tyre mileage is estimated to be 40,000km. However, this varies for each driver.
The rule of thumb is that the smoother you are as a driver, the longer your tyres will last. It should be about 2 years before the average driver will need to change his or her tyres.
How To Properly Maintain Tyres
Up Your Driving Game
While some say that it takes 21 days to solidify new habits, it only takes a day to make a change in the way you drive.
Restrain from fast turns, fast starts, sudden stops and speeding. This will prevent your tyres from unnecessary wear and tear as well as air pressure loss and abrasion. Ultimately, it saves you from a blowout at the most inconvenient timings.
Not to mention saving you money in the long term as well.
Check For Troublemakers
As and when, remind yourself to take a closer look at your tyres in case of sharp objects penetrating them.
Ensure Adequate Tyre Pressure
Make it a practice to check your tyre pressure every three months.
Do note that in colder temperatures, air pressure tends to decrease while in hotter temperatures, air pressure tends to increase.
Hence, when checking your tyre pressure, do so when the tyres are cooled. Don’t check them immediately after driving.
Tyre Alignment Checks
To maximize the performance of your tyres and keep them maintained, a good practice is to check on your tyre alignment every 5,000km. Look out for:
- Camber (vertical outward tilt or inward tilt)
- Caster (displacement from the steering axis)
- Toe (when the wheel is pointing away from the centreline of the vehicle)
It may be costly to adjust the alignment of your tyres, but it is a worthwhile investment for your safety and the durability of your tyres.
Rotate Your Wheels
If your vehicle features front-wheel or rear-wheel drive, front tyres should be rotated with rear tyres to even out the wear.
If your vehicle features four-wheel drive, tyres should be swapped in the order of left to right, front to rear so that each one would be diagonal to its original position.
For directional tyres, it is dangerous to switch sides as they are designed to fit the side they are on. Instead, switch the front tyres with the rear ones. This should be done every 10,000km or every 6 months.
Now, you are well prepared to keep the footwear of your vehicles in pristine condition. There may be many things to take note on but it is all worthwhile for safe braking and a confident drive.