Make Sure Your Car Tyres Are Road Worthy

Published: 11th May 2008
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Making certain your car tyres are in sound condition is one the most vital parts of good car maintenance. Tyres need to be checked for wear, bulging, cracking, pressure and for objects caught in the tread on a weekly basis.

Car tyres that are defective and not fit for purpose are incredible dangerous. It should also be remembered that in the UK if the police find a car tyre to be defective (with a tyre tread of less than 1.6mm across the central 3/4 of the tyre or in any other way not roadworthy) then the car owner will face a fine of up to £2500 and 3 penalty points per tyre.

To underline how important tyre maintenance is the UK driving test includes a section on general car maintenance called the show me, tell me test which includes a question on tyre safety.

All new car tyres have tread wear indicators, six small ribs across the bottom of the main tread grooves. When the tread surface becomes level with these ribs the tyre is at the legal limit and must be replaced.

Tyre pressure should be checked weekly. Remember to check your spare tyre also. Having the right tyre pressure will give you optimized braking, handling, grip and fuel efficiency. If the pressure is below the manufacturers recommended level then the tyre will have an higher risk of failure. Fuel consumption will also increase.

High tyre pressure will cause diminished grip, reduce stability in braking and cornering and increase risk of impact tyre damage.

It is vital that tyre pressure should only be checked when the tyres are cold. Warm tyres will give an inaccurate reading. Driving only a few miles will warm your tyres to a level which will make a accurate pressure reading difficult.

If you are not in possession of a pressure gauge then the alternative is to check tyre pressure is by using a digital air dispenser found at most petrol stations. These are simply to use and there should be instructions on how to do so on the machine itself.

A majority of car tyres are made to very high quality standards however there can still be variations in the thickness of the rubber, the steel belts and the radial webbing that forms the structure. This can lead to a slight weight difference around the tyre. This is a well know issue and can be cured by balancing the wheel and tyre. A less well known problem caused by these slight variations is a problem called run-out: a measure of how straight the tyre will run if fitted to a wheel and allowed to roll along a flat level surface.

Some tyres will run straight and true others will veer to the right or left. When buying a new tyre you will see an indication of this. Look for a red or blue line running the tread of the new tyre. this is a run-out indicator. The nearer it is to the centre the straighter the tyre will run and which side of the centre it is on shows the direction of the run-out.

If both tyres on the front axle of your car run-out significantly in the same direction a steering problem can occur. When buying new tyres it is important to go for two with run-outs that are of the same amount but in opposite directions. This way the two will cancel each other out and you have straight steering.

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