It’s very fortunate that cars come with their tyres already on! The sheer choice that’s available when you have to replace your tyres though can be mind-boggling. How do you know when your tyres even need to be replaced? What if you get a flat tyre? How do you keep your tyres well maintained? Is city traffic detrimental to tyres?
Well you’re about to find out the answers to all these questions, and more!
How to keep your tyres well maintained so they last longer
If you take steps to keep your tyres in excellent condition, you won’t have to replace them so soon and that saves you money. Plus, you want to have great tyres that work exactly as they should so you stay safe on the roads.
Here are our tyre maintenance tips:
How to know when your tyres need replacing
- Correct inflation – Under-inflated tyres can result in excessive wear, cause your car to use more fuel and affect vehicle handling. Over-inflated tyres wear out more quickly. All tyres lose pressure over time depending on how much and what type of driving you do so visit a petrol station at least once a month or even every time you fill your car. The best time to check the pressure is when the tyres are cold so aim to visit the closest petrol station to your home.
- Conduct checks – Whenever you wash your car, check your tyres. Look for any bulges, cracks, splits or scratches and especially any embedded objects such as stones or nails. If you notice anything wrong, take your car to a mechanic or petrol station for a second opinion. Also visually inspect the amount of remaining tread. If the tyres have worn down to the TWIs (tread-wear indicators) then you need new tyres.
- Alignment – When your wheels aren’t correctly aligned, your tyres can wear down unevenly and affect your vehicle’s handling. Incidents such as driving against the gutter when parking, or hitting a pothole can affect the wheel alignment. If you take your hands off the wheel on a long stretch of straight road and the steering veers to one side or another, you need a wheel alignment. Generally, once every two years is recommended otherwise.
- Driving behaviours – Tyre wear and tear is affected by driving style. Avoid potholes, harsh braking and acceleration and travelling around corners at high speed. Driving in city traffic can be hard on tyres because of the constant stop-start, unexpected needs to brake, potholes, extreme variations in incline and many other variables.
The worst time to learn that your tyres need replacing is when a police officer pulls you over to tell you! A ‘bald tyre’ infringement can cost you a large fine and if you’re driving a compact car such as a Toyota Yaris, that could be the cost of buying four new tyres! With that in mind, it’s best to keep a close eye on the condition of your tyres so that you replace them before you get caught out.
Your first port of call when checking the wear of your tyres is to look at the Tread Wear Indicators which are moulded into the tyre’s tread grooves at regular intervals around your tyre. If your tyres are worn down to the legal limit, the TWI bars will be flush with the tread’s surface.
If you’re not 100% sure, then it’s best to ask a professional such as a tyre retailer, mechanic or petrol station attendant for advice.
How to know what tyres to buy
There is no ‘best tyre brand’ to buy. Everyone has their own priorities when it comes to purchasing new tyres. For some, it’s cost or safety considerations while for others, it’s style or performance. When you go shopping for tyres, no matter which retailer you visit, you’ll be presented with a set selection of tyres based on the make and model of your car. From there, you need to discuss your priorities with the retailer. Stick to well-known mainstream brands to be guaranteed of quality.
Do some research on pricing because some retailers charge premium pricing whereas others don’t charge the same margins, even though it’s the very same product. Call three retailers to enquire and also ask about the cost of labour to replace your tyres.
How to change a flat tyre
Knowing how to change a flat tyre is an essential skill for any person. You never know when you might be caught in a remote location without access to assistance
Here are our tips to change a flat tyre:
- Ensure your environment is safe by pulling over to an area that is clear of traffic and the ground is hard and level. Turn on your hazard lights, put the car in park or first gear and apply the handbrake.
- Take the jack and wheel brace from your boot and have a look under your car for the small notches on the car’s underside where you can place the jack. Once in place, turn the handle slowly until the car raises high enough to have the tyre off the ground.
- Place the wheel brace on a wheel nut and loosen it by applying pressure in an anti-clockwise direction. Repeat for all the other wheel nuts and be sure to place them where they can be reached easily and won’t roll away.
- Lift the wheel away from the car and put it on the ground.
- Take your spare wheel from the boot, line up the holes on the wheel assembly of the car and then push it on. Next, replace all the wheel nuts and tighten them by hand, starting with the bottom one.
- Next, lightly tighten the wheel nuts with the wheel brace, but not fully until the car has been lowered.
- Without going too fast, unwind the jack so that the wheel takes the weight of the car again and then remove it.
- Put the original wheel into the boot and replace the jack and wheel brace.
Once you have changed the flat tyre, drive away slowly, paying attention to how the car feels and moves. Don’t speed off in case there is a problem with the replacement tyre.
Make time to take your original wheel to be repaired without delay in case you get a flat tyre again.
Otherwise, happy driving!