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Car Insurance

10 Aug 2021

This article was written in partnership with Carsales is the largest online automotive business in Australia, attracting more people interested in buying or selling cars.

Tyre Care 101

Your vehicle’s tyres are the first line of defence in preventing incidents and keeping you safe on the road. Here’s why – and how – you should give them a regular health check.

When it comes to staying safe on our roads, properly maintaining your vehicle’s tyres should be near or at the top of your ‘to do’ list.

Those round black hoops are, quite literally, the only point of contact between your car and the road. If they’re not working properly, it can have a dramatic effect on how the car handles, brakes and steers; as well as the performance of any of the supplementary safety systems such as antilock brakes or stability control.

Taking care of your tyres also has knock-on effects that will save you money. Top of the list, your tyres will last longer; and correct inflation helps to optimise fuel economy.

So, here’s a handy checklist on how to inspect the health of your tyres.

Set a regular reminder

Set a time in your calendar to check your tyres each month. It’s a simple solution that ensures a reminder pops up regularly.

Check the pressures

Checking your car’s tyres have the correct air pressure is the first – and most basic – element of making sure your tyres are working properly.

You can do this with a service station air hose but having a good quality tyre pressure gauge provides more accurate readings.

If you are unsure about what your tyre pressure should be, check the tyre placard on your vehicle for the factory recommended tyre pressures. This is typically located on the inside of the driver’s door jam, in the glovebox or on the back of the fuel filler cap.

Tyre placards will list varied tyre pressures for different conditions. For instance, car manufacturers may recommend higher tyre pressures when the car is fully loaded or being operated at sustained highway speeds.

Visually inspect your tyres for any damage

Take a look at each tyre for any foreign items that may be lodged in the tread (think nails or screws) by visually inspecting the surface of the tyre. These items may not necessarily cause an immediate puncture but they can sometimes work their way into the tyre and create a slow air leak.

If you do find a nail or screw stuck in the tyre, do not attempt to remove it. Instead, contact a tyre fitter or your roadside assistance provider.

Next, check the sidewalls of the tyre for any bulges or cuts. You can check the inner sidewall by parking the vehicle with the steering on full lock one way to check the front edge and then full lock the other way to check the rear edge.

If any of the tyres show signs of damage it is recommended to replace them immediately. This can be assessed by a professional tyre fitter.

Check your tyres are wearing evenly

A tyre can only work properly — especially in wet weather — if it has enough tread depth. The grooves in tyres are there to dissipate water while the pattern of the blocks has an effect on how well the car handles.

So, at the same time you’re checking for any damage, take a look at the tread pattern and ensure, first of all, that the tyre is wearing evenly across its face.

If either the inside or outer edge is bald, it is likely a result of the steering and suspension being out of alignment.

If the tyre is wearing on both edges, it is likely the tyre is under inflated. And, conversely, if the tyre is wearing more in the centre section it is likely to be ballooning as a result of having too much pressure.

All of these signs mean the tyre is not operating at its best which therefore affects the handling and performance of your car.

Check your tread depth

Next, check the tread depth by assessing whether the blocks are at the same height as the tread wear indicators (little bridges across the grooves) that are located in the channels.

Some tyre manufacturers will often help you find tread wear indicators with the letters 'TWI' or an arrow on the sidewall close to where the bridge is located. If the groove is wide enough, you can actually poke a finger in it and feel around for the indicator.

If the tread or face of the tyre is at the same height as the wear indicators, the tyres have less than 1.5mm of tread depth remaining and are considered unroadworthy and need to be replaced.

Don’t forget the spare tyre

There is probably nothing more frustrating than having a flat (or damaged) spare tyre when you need it. So, at the same time you’re checking the tyres that are on the car, do the same for the spare.

If your car is fitted with a space saver, check, first of all, whether it is meant to be inflated in the boot, or not. Some space savers are designed to remain deflated for packaging reasons and will come with an inflation kit to use only when required.

Roadside Assist can be purchased for just $99 a year or added with any Woolworths Car Insurance policy. This could come in handy if you have a flat tyre. They will arrange for it to be changed with your car’s serviceable spare wheel or transport the car to an approved tyre outlet.

Be sure to keep this checklist handy to help care for your tyres, saving you time and money in the long run.


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