Cars have come a long way since the first four-wheeled petrol automobile hit the roads more than a hundred years ago. Tremendous advances in technology over this period mean modern day cars are so intelligent that they can steer for you, judge the distance between you and the car in front and brake accordingly, and even park themselves.
But despite all these comfort and safety features that are built into today’s cars, they have one thing in common with the first ever automobile: the rotund piece of rubber that covers the wheel. The importance of tyres cannot be stressed enough, as they are the most crucial, or rather the only, link between your car and the road.
Which means that however advanced or powerful the car you drive is, ultimately it’s only as good as its tyres. But unfortunately, the truth remains that tyres are often the most neglected part of a car. Even motorists who religiously take their cars for routine mechanical maintenance or for body detailing don’t give the same importance to balancing and aligning the wheels or even checking the tyre pressure periodically.
Get a Grip
The treads of a tyre are what help it grip the road while braking and in wet conditions. A tyre’s capacity to disperse water is reduced considerably when the tread is worn out. So it’s important to replace your tyres when the treadwear indicator is exposed. A treadwear indicator is a bar of rubber built across the treads and can be seen only after the rubber is worn down to 1.6mm.
Find a Balance
To ensure a long service life for your set of tyres, it’s essential to keep the wheels balanced and aligned and get the tyres rotated every 10,000km — at least. Always be on the lookout for unusual vibrations while driving, as this may indicate an improperly balanced wheel. Rotating the tyres as per the manufacturer’s recommendation also helps ensure even treadwear of all the four tyres.
The easiest, yet most important part of tyre care is maintaining the correct inflation pressure as recommended by the car manufacturer. Since it’s best to get the pressure checked when the tyre is cold, it’s worth investing in a tyre pressure gauge so that you can do the check at home. Ideally, inflation pressure should be monitored every week and corrected if needed. This should be checked more frequently in cars just out of the box until you clock the first 3,000km; new tyres tend to expand during this period resulting is pressure drops inside. Apart from this, the tyre pressure must be checked every time you set out on a long trip. It’s also advisable to keep the spare tyre filled with more air than recommended — 5psi or so.
Take a Look
In addition to these tips, it’s a good idea for you to walk around the car every morning and give the exterior of your tyres a visual check. Keep an eye out for worn or scuffed areas, bulges, slits or bald patches. Remove stones or other sharp objects which may be trapped in the tread. If all these checks are undertaken routinely, you can expect to get a long and trouble-free service from your set of rubbers. That’s assuming you cut down on those powerslides and burnouts.