Tyres are the one aspect of a Car that are often overlooked until disaster strikes and in this article we are going to examine all the aspects of tyre care and maintenance so that you will stay safe and arrive alive.
1. Tyres wear out… Just like any other component in a car, only more so. You need to keep a constant eye on your tyres since they are the one thing that keeps you on the road, apart of course, from your observation!
2. Legal limit 1.6mm… At this point your tread is over 80% worn….So they should be replaced before this tread depth is reached!
3. Tyre Pressures…..The Manufacturers recommended pressures you will find in your manual and also printed inside your fuel filler cap. These are for Factory –Fitted tyres…..other makes or sizes of tyre may require different pressures, so check with your Tyre Shop for advice. The manufacturers will always give you two settings of Tyre pressure…one for the car with Driver and one passenger….one for the car with a full load. Its important to further inflate the tyres when you have a full load, particularly if you are going on a long journey that involves high –speed carriageway or Motorway driving. Underinflated tyres are unsafe; don’t give you good road holding ;wear out much more quickly; create extra drag which means higher fuel consumption; and give your passengers and uncomfortable ride. If you have young children in the rear seat be prepared for car sickness!
4. Cuts –Splits – Bulges…These are easy to acquire, if you play footsie with kerbs and potholes. Mounting the Kerb can damage the sidewall of the tyre either invisibly or very visibly. Tyre sidewalls are much thinner than the tyre tread and so are easily damaged. A bulge indicates severe damage to the side wall and this will require the immediate replacement of the tyre. There is a danger of a blow-out occurring at high speed with a damaged tyre. Pot-holes, by their very nature have sharp edges and going over one at any kind of speed, will often lead to a puncture, or worse, the complete destruction of the tyre ,not to mention your beautiful ,newly acquired Alloy wheels.
5. The Spare Wheel… This is often forgotten about and should be included in your weekly tyre pressure check. The tyre will lose its pressure over time and it’s a real nuisance and a danger, to get a puncture, miles from anywhere, and then find that your spare tyre is flat! You are then side-lined with the obvious delays in getting hold of a mobile tyre service, but perhaps worse is the possibility of creating a major obstruction on the road with your stranded car. A car that cannot be moved off the road creates a serious accident hazard.
6. Punctures…What to do when you get one? It’s very important to know how to change a wheel, following a puncture, whether you are a Guy or a Girl! Changing a wheel is relatively simple, providing you have the correct equipment and utilise the correct technique. However it is not always easy or safe. In the next section we will discuss this in more detail but in the meantime if you are a Lady drive and some difficulty with this exercise; providing you get all your tools out and look as if you know what you are doing, then it is very likely that a passing motorist will stop and assist you and get you motoring again in a few minutes.
7. Equipment…….The wheel brace that comes with your car when it is new, we have found to be sometimes ineffective when trying to release the wheel nuts if your wheel has either not been removed for a very long time, or has been over tightened by the gun in use in a garage or tyre shop. We have got through numerous wheel braces over the years which have had to be discarded in favour of the professional criss-cross, cast iron brace, which will last you a life time and which you can take with you when you change cars .This type of wheel brace has four different size sockets and will, because of it’s tremendous leverage, enable you to loosen the most stubborn of nuts. An added bonus of carrying one of these is that you will be able to help any other Motorist who is having trouble with his wheel. Final tip here is to mask the socket which fits your wheels with some red insulating tape so that you can easily identify this in the dark. A lot of punctures happen at night or in a snow storm so you can do a lot to make things easier and safer for you. The jack should be in the boot with the rest of the kit but do check if you are buying an older second hand car, that you have one…you might need it around the next corner!
8. Plank of Wood … Many years ago, in the teeth of a howling gale, I suffered a puncture on a country road late at night and due to the non- stop rain that had been pouring down for several days, the grass verge and edge of the road were so soft, that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t raise the car sufficiently to get the spare wheel on! It was too dangerous and too narrow to move the car into the middle of the road to get a better support for the Jack .The close proximity of a bend made it even more hazardous .In desperation, and soaking wet, I searched around and eventually borrowed a large flat stone from a nearby wall, to spread the weight and support the jack while the wheel was changed. Ever since then I have carried a short plank,12 inches long and 1 inch thick and have never had a problem since .This is the origin of the phrase as thick as two short planks! We have them on special offer this month @ €29.99 for the pair! Another observation for those of you who might have a new tarmac driveway at your home, don’t attempt to jack your car up without using your plank or you will create a nice hole in your Drive!
9. Spare wheel nuts … If you have bought a new set of alloy wheels then it is likely that they will be held on with longer than average wheel nuts .Since it is unusual to buy five alloy wheels then following a puncture you will be using the standard spare wheel to replace the punctured one. You will need to ensure that you have in your emergency kit the standard nuts to fix this in place while you get the puncture repaired and the Alloy wheel back on the car.
10. Small Penknife…If you are using standard factory – issue steel wheels with Plastic Hub Caps, they will be fastened to the rim with cable ties, to keep them from disappearing into the hedge after hitting a bump or pothole. . These are a little difficult to remove without a blade so a penknife or Stanley knife is very useful in cutting the cable tie before getting access to the wheel nuts. Its useful also to use two ties since they sometimes break if scraped, leaving you with a missing hub cap. Original hub caps are expensive to replace so it is worth this little effort.
11. Towel… An old towel and some hand cleanser are very useful to enable you to clean up after changing a wheel, particularly if you are miles from anywhere and heading for an Interview or lunch date. Punctures rarely happen at home where you have all your mod.cons. at your disposal. Apart from this, mucky or greasy hands will make your steering wheel slippery and dangerous! Some kitchen roll and spare valve caps are a useful addition also to your in-boot-kit.