There are three main reasons why maintaining of the car’s tires is very important.Tires, being the only contact between the car and the road cannot be overlooked and drivers tend to focus on the exterior parts of the car as well as the engine, forgetting one of the most important parts or maybe even the most important.
Firstly, let us look at the importance of tires, which are as follows: to support the weight of your vehicle since the air and the build up pressure in your tire support the weight of the car plus the driver and passengers on board, to absorb road shocks by reducing the effect of bumpy roads, to transmit traction and braking forces: that is providing traction when your car is moving off, provide the necessary braking when your car is coming to a stop and finally to change and maintain the direction of travel. Having understood their purpose, we will now find out why it is important to maintain them.
Importance of maintaining car tires
- Road safety. This entails you, the passenger and other road users, not to mention the risk of falling on the wrong side of the law. Tires that are under-inflated can overheat and lead to premature failure, while those that are over-inflated can lead to rapid uneven tread wear and poor vehicle handling on the road. It is important to note that tires lose pressure as time goes, or when you go drive through hard objects on the road like curbs and high bumps.
- Fuel economy. Did you know that fuel consumption increases by 1% every 0.2 bar(2.9 psi) that the tire pressure is under that specified by the manufacturer, and tire wear increases by 5% for the same? Vehicles with under-inflated tyres have increased rolling resistance that require more fuel to maintain the same speed, and fuel bills is the last thing on any driver’s mind.
- To increase longevity. Over or under inflated tires suffer more damage than those with the correct pressure and need to be replaced regularly. This is because under-inflation can also lead to higher tire temperature and increase tire wear while over-inflation may lead to skating due to a less contact surface area. With such in mind now let us see how to properly maintain your tires.
How to properly maintain your tires
When buying, ensure you buy genuine premium tyres such as Pirelli or Bridgestone. They might be expensive at first, but cheaper tires tend to wear out faster and their safety is arguably questionable.
Give them the once over. Check tire pressure after every couple of weeks or better still, use the Tire Pressure Monitor. This great little device simply screws on in place of your existing valve cap and gives you a visual indication of your tire pressure in seconds.
When travelling for a long distance, fill tire pressure to 5 pound pressure (PSI) more to increase their effectiveness. Otherwise, always ensure you follow the recommendations as per the manufacturer’s manual.
It is important to keep your wheels properly aligned as wheels out of alignment will result in increased and uneven tire wear, increase fuel consumption, lead to poor vehicle handling and cause the car to pull to one side. Wheels alignment can be disturbed by hitting pot holes, riding the vehicle up curbs, etc. However, even without abuse, front wheel alignment can get misaligned under normal driving conditions after some time, and its important to align always after changing the tires.
If you see scalloped or cupped wear pattern on the tires or feel queer vibrations, it’s the high time to balance the wheels. Out-of-balance tires normally will cause a car to vibrate when the car is travelling between 80 to 110 km/hour. Unbalanced wheels will lead to premature wear of many vehicle components as well as make the ride uncomfortable.
Routinely inspect your tread wear. From time to time, you should check how well-worn are your tires as worn tires can be dangerous as they only provide diminishing friction with the road and thus affect the optimal brake distance. In the United Kingdom for instance, the law requires a minimum thread depth of 1.6 mm in the main grooves which are situated in the central three-quarters of a tire.
Keep an eye on the valve, as it will inevitably deteriorate through ageing and the forces it is subjected to during its lifetime, therefore manufacturers recommend new valves be fitted each time a tire is fitted to a wheel for safety purposes.
Lastly, even if you prefer to do most of the checks by yourself, it is always good to have a reliable professional mechanic to check your car and your car tires as part of your regular maintenance schedule.