Essentially, tyres are flexible pressure vessels. In other words, they hold air.

 

Correct pressures are vital because the air dictates the support the tyre gets and controls the amount of flex in the side wall.

 

If you run tyres under inflated, the side wall flexes far more than it is designed to do and that can lead to tyre failure.

 

On the other hand an over inflated tyre will give you a harsh ride and will quickly wear out the centre of the tread. In both cases the tyres won’t perform at their best and they certainly won’t last as long as they should.

 

Tyre pressures need to be checked on a weekly basis.

 

You’ll find that the tyre plaque will give you the correct pressures for both normal and maximum loads. If you can’t find a plaque or if you are driving a car that was built before 1973 you’ll need to contact a tyre specialist or the car’s manufacturer. All recommended pressures are for cold tyres.

 

Unfortunately, the air gages at some service stations aren’t always in great shape. So one of the best gadgets you can own is your own tyre gage.

 

So use the compressed air at the station to inflate your tyres but use your gage to check the pressure. The best time to check your tyres is first thing in the morning or whilst the tyre is cold.

 

Checking the pressures when the tyre is hot will not give you a correct reading because the hot air increases the pressure. So again this is where your own gage is handy because you can check the pressures in your own garage.

Always check the spare as well. This one tends to be in the out of sight out of mind category and is often forgotten. The problem is that when you need it you may very well find that the spare is as flat as the tyre you replacing. At best this could be inconvenient.

 

On the subject of spare tyres, it would be a good time to discuss the space saver tyre. These days a full spare is becoming a rare sight as more and more cars are being equipped with an emergency wheel and tyre. They are designed to get you out of trouble and not for high speeds or prolonged use.

 

Their job is to get you back on the road and to a service centre where the tyre can repaired or replaced. This should be done as soon as possible. You will have to modify your driving to suit as you limp on to the nearest service centre.

 

Respecting and looking after your tyres will go a long way to obtaining their maximum life and improving your safety of the road.

 

Drive Safely - Russell White Driversafety.com.au