Tyres are a vital part of your car. We’re probably not telling you anything new when we say they’re all about maintaining a good grip on the road surface. Still, you’d be surprised how many people forget to give them the once over. In this article we explore the art of checking tyres for faults and damage.
In the worst case scenarios – such as getting a flat or puncture, newer cars can get you to the nearest tyre centre with run-flat tyres. Others have glue kits that form a temporary seal over the fissure allowing you a similar window to get a replacement or repair.
And of course if you do find problems with your car’s tyres when it’s stationary, it’s time to get to the nearest service centre.
The 20p Test for Checking Tyres
Worried that your tyres might be too worn for the road? It’s easy to check with one of the most common UK coins. Take a 20p out of your piggy bank and stick it into the tread on your tyres. See the TWENTY PENCE writing on the edge of the coin? If this disappears your tyres are fine. If you see some or all of the text, they’re out of tread and it’s time to replace them.
Both Sides of the Story
One of the more common problems you might face with your wheels is misalignment. It means that your wheels are no longer quite positioned parallel to one another and usually happens to the front wheels, which have to turn to get the car to move.
When this issue is severe you will actually feel the car pulling to one side, but it’s harder to notice when there is only a small discrepancy between the wheels.
With the help of your smartphone you can do a little detective work. Simply snap a picture of the tyre on one side of the vehicle and then compare the wear with the tyre on the other side. If one tyre is more worn than the other, get your vehicle to the service centre, where the guys and ladies can correct the issue.
Where the Rubber Hits the Road
Have you ever been driving down a country lane and suddenly noticed a big old swipe of rubber on the road where there’s obviously been some kind of unwelcome incident? Hitting the emergency braking procedure is a good way to quickly burn out the rubber on your tyres. If you’re already driving worn tyres this could even be the end for them should the incident happen at any kind of considerable speed.
After any kind of emergency braking manoeuvre be sure to get around to checking tyres and make sure there’s not a big chunk of rubber missing. If there is a problem, your next trip should be to the tyre fitters. Don’t leave it to chance.
Kerb Your Car Control
Sudden impacts are a real problem for tyres. You’re looking at pressurised rubber, which does not like violent jumps and bumps. Hitting potholes and curbs at speed can cause the structure of the tyre to be so badly damaged that you’ll see cracks and bulging on the outside edge. If you see any of these signs the diagnosis isn’t good. It’s unlikely that the tyre can be saved and you’ll be looking at shelling out for a replacement.
More incentive to make sure you’re staying safe and calm on the road. If the surface looks bad or you’re unsure of the twists and turns, simply slow down and take it easy. A few seconds on your journey is worth not having to pay hundreds for a new tyre.
Do your tyres look saggy? Or alternatively, do you suspect that they have too much pressure in them? Too soft or hard tyres are dangerous as they can cause you to lose grip or wear prematurely. You can easily pick up a small gauge that will tell you the tyre pressure from Amazon or eBay, or better yet, purchase a portable tyre inflator that includes a pressure gauge along with the pump.
Check the recommended PSI in your owner’s manual and there is always a label on the body of your car somewhere too. Sometimes it’s on the edge of the driver’s door, glove box or petrol cap door. Make sure that the tyre pressure is in line with the parameters in the book.
If your tyres are too pressurised, press the little piece of metal in the tyre nozzle to quickly let out some air and test them again. If there’s not enough air pressure, pump them up there and then. Or head down to the garage to check the pressure and adjust as needed. Nowadays most garages have tyre pumps with digital readouts for checking tyres’ pressure.
One Woman Owner Says
It’s easy to forget how important tyres are until there’s a problem. When you’re travelling at high speeds over water, tyres are actually designed to filter out the fluid and throw it out their sides. You can see this on HGVs when they’re going down the motorway, with jets of spray coming out of the back of the tyres.
If you want to stay safe in the wet and keep control of your car in torrential or even drizzly rain, having good tyre health is absolutely essential.
As with everything on the car, checking tyres once a month is all you need. A simple 3-minute scout around could save you from a serious accident.