Considering that tyres are the only parts that connect your vehicle to the road, why are so many people neglecting their tyre quality? Too many drivers fail to understand the significant impact of worn or damaged tyres on general road safety. Not taking proper care of your tyres will affect acceleration, braking, directional force and even fuel consumption.
As tyres wear gradually, it’s common that vehicle owners forget to regularly check their tyres for tread depth, uneven wear or physical damage. As a result, the loss of traction may only be apparent once the vehicle skids instead of stopping dead in its tracks. This should serve as a warning that you may need new tyres or at least let an expert take a look.
Tyre Legislation In South Africa
It is illegal to operate a vehicle on tyres that could pose a danger to other road users or tyres that have been incorrectly fitted to the rim. While the legal tread depth in South Africa is 1 mm, a minimum of 1.6 mm is safer, which is the legal limit in Europe.
As stated in the legislation, “It is recommended that no vehicle be operated with tyres that do not have a minimum tread pattern depth of 1 mm in all the main grooves across the full width of their tread contact area and around the full tyre circumference, with the exclusion of areas where tread-wear indicators or tiebars (or both) exist”.
Signs Your Car Tyres May Need Replacement
While many believe it is better to replace all tyres simultaneously, it’s not always possible or practical. Several factors can play a part such as unforeseen damage and different rates of tyre wear between the front and rear. Let’s have a look at some of the tell-tale signs that you need to check or replace your tyres.
- Besides worn tyre tread, lumps or bulges could indicate a compromised tyre structure
- If you notice the internal metal cords of your tyres, take action immediately
- During your inspection, keep a close eye out for uneven tread wear, nails, sharp stones, damaged valve caps and slow punctures
- When the ride is rougher than usual, there may be tyre damage or excessive wear
- Vibrations or other disturbances while driving could be potentially dangerous
When you notice anything out of the ordinary, including strange vibrations or noises, slow down immediately and drive cautiously until you can safely pull over to check your tyres. If there is damage, deflate it and replace it with the spare. Even if you can’t see physical damage, visit your nearest service centre for a thorough inspection.
How Do I Check My Tyre Tread?
In Europe, they consider that even at 1.6 mm, the tyres don’t offer enough sufficient grip, especially in adverse weather conditions. With the legal limit in South Africa being 1 mm, it’s best to keep an eye on your tyres to ensure the safety of you, your passengers and other road users. Here are three ways you can check your tyre tread.
- A tread depth gauge can measure the inside and outside of the tyre
- Tyre manufacturers add tread wear indicators which are moulded into the tread grooves. If you can see them, you need to replace your tyres
- Place a R5 coin into the main tread grooves and if you can’t see the outer band, your tread is above the legal limit. If you can see the outer band of the coin, you should replace your tyre
How Long Do Car Tyres Usually Last?
How long a tyre lasts is not an exact science as it depends on several factors from the tyre design, driving habits, climate, road conditions and level of tyre maintenance. However, you could follow the general rule of thumb that an expert should thoroughly inspect your tyres at least once a year when they are five years or older.
Typically, tyres older than 10 years after their date of manufacture should be replaced as a precaution even if the tyre seems perfectly fine. This includes the appearance of tyre tread not worn down to the tread wear indicator. Don’t forget to check the spare tyre in your inspections as the last thing anyone wants is a flat or damaged spare when you need it most.
Tyre Replacement And Maintenance Tips
There are many ways you can look after your tyres but regularly consulting your mechanic or tyre technicians at a reputable service centre remains the most important. Here are a few others worth mentioning:
- Check all your tyres when filling up
- When using a specific petrol station, don’t always use the same machine as the one you mostly use could be faulty
- Look at the tyre pressure indicator in your owner’s manual or inside your vehicle and always inflate your tyres according to the load you are carrying
- If you notice anything strange or out of the ordinary, get it seen to immediately
- Only buy tyres from reputable suppliers or tyre dealers
- Make sure you do wheel balancing and wheel alignment
- If any tyre is worn, replace it as soon as possible
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