The care and maintenance of your tyres is essential for your safety and that of your passengers. It also makes for a more comfortable driving experience. There are a number of simple steps that you can do that will not only improve the life of your tyres but also the performance and safety of your car.
Tyre pressure and spare tyre
The easiest step to take in caring for your tyres is checking that all your tyres have the correct tyre pressure, including the spare. Under-inflated tyres cause poor steering and braking performance, leading to irregular tyre wear that will quickly reduce the life of your tyres. Excessive wear due to under-inflation can make your tyres prone to blowout. Over-inflation reduces the amount of tyre that is in contact with the road, reducing the braking ability and performance of your car. Regularly check that your tyres have the correct pressure in accordance with your vehicle's recommendations. You can find the correct pressure noted in your vehicle's handbook or on a plate or sticker on your vehicle, often on the inside of the driver's door.
Unbalanced wheels will cause the steering wheel to wobble at higher speeds. Improperly balanced wheels can also cause problems in other areas of your car such as the suspension and braking performance. Incorrect wheel balance is corrected by small weights attached to the rim of the wheel. As your tyres wear they naturally become unbalanced as the weight distribution within the tyre changes. Hitting a pothole or a kerb can also cause your tyres to lose balance. Get your tyres checked and balanced every 6 to 12 months.
A wheel alignment involves adjusting the suspension of the car and not the tyres. Poor wheel alignment can cause wear on different parts of your tyres, depending on how the tyres are misaligned. Incorrect wheel alignment can also cause steering problems and the necessity to continually compensate steering whilst driving. Your wheels should be checked for alignment every 6 to 12 months.
As front and back tyres will also often wear at different rates and positions, regular tyre rotation will extend the life of the tyres. Tyres should be rotated as part of your regular service.
Tightness of wheel nuts
Check on a regular basis that your wheel nuts are tight and not loose. Incorrect tension can cause problems with wheel balancing.
It is important to have the same type of tyres on your car. Tyres have different patterns, density and wear characteristics. Having different models and makes of tyres on your car can cause problems with wheel alignment and difficulties with automatic traction control.
Check for nails
A common reason for tyre replacement is nails puncturing the tyre. Whilst nails often do not cause immediate deflation, a slow leak will cause irregular wear and the need for the tyre to be replaced. Nails when detected early can be easily repaired by a qualified tyre fitter.
Check for Tread Depths
Tread pattern designed on the tyre surface are designed to keep water out and maintain a contact between tyre and road where the rubber maintains a good amount of grip and maintains it. When the tyre wears out the grooves also wears out thus increasing the aquaplaning and loss of control. So once the groove depth decreases below 1.6mm one should try to look for replacements. Tread depth should be at least 1.6 mm across 75% of tread depth.
Looking after your tyres can prolong their life and ensure the safety of your vehicle. It is good to know what to look for when assessing the condition of your tyres.
Wheel alignment sometimes referred to as tracking, is part of standard automobile maintenance that consists of adjusting the angles of the wheels so that they are set to the car maker's specification. The purpose of these adjustments is to reduce tire wear, and to ensure that vehicle travel is straight and true (without "pulling" to one side).
Alignment is one of the key maintenance factors in getting the most wear and performance from your tyres. In addition, wheel alignment provides safe, predictable vehicle control as well as a smooth and comfortable ride, free of pulling or vibration, and improved gas mileage. Wheel alignment is done for proper return ability, less tyre wear, reduce load on suspension and better handling. Improper wheel alignment can effect driving performance of your vehicles as well as cost you money. It also improves your vehicle's gas mileage by decreasing your tyre's resistance and improves safety by avoiding steering accidents.
There are three main parameters of alignment; camber, caster and toe.
Return ability is the ability of the steering to get into position while the wheel moves.
is the inclination of the tyres when viewed from front. The camber is negative if the top of the wheel leans inwards and if it is leaning outwards then the camber is positive. Positively cambered tyres are beneficial during rains to drain the water. To stay in a straight line positive camber is set on the front tyres. Rear tyres have zero camber.
The inclination of the steering pivot to the front or backward direction, to adjust the steering is Caster. The front angle indicates positive caster while the backwards indicate negative caster.
Rear wheel drive cars have positive caster and front wheel drive cars have negative caster. Caster is only made present in front wheels because of their ability to steer.
The difference of the lateral distance between the front end of the front tyres and the rear end of the front tyres is toe measurement. Toe-in suggests front end of the tyre is closer and in toe-out means it's away.
Tyre Rotation is an essential for longer tyre life and even its wear. With the front tyres having positive camber angle, the inside edge of the tyre wears faster, hence changing a front tyre with the diagonally opposite rear tyre will increase the life of a tyre, the tyre which is now at the rear end will wear from the centre as the rear end has no camber. The tyres should be rotated every 5,000km even if there is no mention of the same in the manual.
Tyre pressure is a very important aspect in the wear of a tyre. The tyre pressure less than the recommended results in the wastage of energy. Also, if the centre of the contact patch doesn't touch the ground reducing the contact patch and tyre wear increases. When the tyre is overinflated, the contact patch is less, the efficiency increases a bit but the handling wears.
For the tyres to rotate smoothly and to prevent vibrations, the entire assembly of tyres has to be well balanced. If a wheel is not balanced, then one segment of the tyre will become lighter and the opposite end will become heavier causing the vibrations.
In static balancing, the wheel and tyre assembly is mounted on a hub and is rotated by hand. The tyre rotates and eventually slows down. While slowing down, the tyre begins to oscillate with reducing amplitude. Once the tyre comes to a halt, the lowest point is marked with a chalk and then again rotated after moving the mark end to 90 degrees from the lowest point. If the marked point again comes to a halt at the lowest point then this indicates that it's the heaviest point on the assembly and weight is added to the opposite side. This is continued till the wheel is balanced.
In this form of balancing, the wheel assembly is attached to the machine, which spins the whole assembly and calculates the amount of weight required at different locations to balance the wheel and tyre.
The tyre presently in use should be replaced with a new tyre when the tread wear indicator is exposed. The tyre wear indicator normally is present at a height of 1.6mm.
Maintenance of Inflation Pressure
The inflation pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer should always be maintained. Inflation pressure of a cold tyre should always be maintained. Inflation pressure should be checked every week and before long drives. Air leakage should be checked for. The valve core should be renewed timely and lost valve cap should be replaced. New tyres tend to expand during a certain initial period and increase its volume. This decreases the inner pressure, so frequent checking of pressure is recommended up to 3000 kms. The inflation pressure of the spare tyre 5 psi (3.0 kgf/cm2) should be maintained, higher than the recommended pressure and before using, bring inflation pressure to the recommended pressure.