Ask any enthusiast which component on their car has the biggest influence on its performance and tyres will definitely be mentioned.
Tyres connect your car to the road, provide grip, prevent aquaplaning and determine braking distances.
What’s even more impressive is that tyres accomplish all of these (and more) via their contact patch, which on average, is only the size of the palm of your hand. The contact patch is the portion of a tyre that’s constantly in contact with the road.
But in order for tyres to deliver their best performance and keep you and your loved ones safe, they require TLC from the driver. Here are five tips to keep your tyres in tip-top form.
1) Keep them correctly inflated
Ensuring that your tyres are inflated to their recommended pressures is one of the simplest yet most overlooked aspects of car maintenance.
An under-inflated tyre wears out faster and causes poorer fuel consumption due to its increased rolling resistance. Other signs of under-inflated tyres also include cracks and abrasions on their shoulders and sidewalls.
Over-inflating your tyres is a no-no as well. Over-inflated tyres have reduced contact patch sizes, which in turn reduces grip and stability. Your car’s ride quality will suffer, too. Keep a pressure gauge in your glovebox and check your tyre pressures at least once a month.
2) Meet the minimum tread depth specified by the brand
If you already have the habit of checking your tyre pressures monthly, you probably periodically inspect their tread depth, too. A properly inflated tyre is great, but not if it’s almost bald.
Tyres usually have a tread wear indicator, but you can also use a tread depth gauge to get more accurate results. Bridgestone, for instance, recommends a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm when measured at the tyre wear indicator.
3) Ensure that your wheels are properly aligned
If you’ve been keeping an eye on your tyre pressures and tread depths, but still notice some uneven wear patterns, your wheels are probably misaligned.
Misaligned wheels also cause your car to “pull” to the left or right. If you notice either of these symptoms, send your car to a workshop immediately. If you prolong the issue, you could increase tyre wear, which will lead to more expensive repair bills.
4) Rotate your tyres
Each of your car’s tyres wears out at different rates because they’re subject to varying forces. The front tyres, for instance, have to deal with steering and turning actions. Rotating your tyres at every service interval (or every 10,00km) will help them wear evenly.
5) Keep your tyres balanced
Those little weights attached to your wheels aren’t there for show, nor were they placed there at random. These weights keep your wheels and tyres balanced, ensuring that they spin smoothly at high speeds.
Poorly balanced tyres will vibrate as you accelerate, lessening your car’s stability and leading to higher/uneven wear rates.