Arrive Alive

Tyre Maintenance and Road Safety

Tyre Maintenance and Road SafetyOur safety on the road depends to a large extent on the safe contact that our tyres have with the surface of the road! Tyre maintenance is however often neglected and safety merely assumed.

We need to consider what we can do to prevent tyre failure. Tyre failure would be anything that causes the tyre not to perform within its design specifications anymore, anything that may result in the tyre not performing its function as a tyre, or anything that could compromise the tyre and make it dangerous, unstable or likely to fail.  

The informed vehicle owner will not only drive defensively to protect his tyres from failure but will inspect his tyres regularly! In this section, we would like to offer some advice to vehicle owners on how how to maintain and inspect their tyres.

Check correct Inflation of the tyres regularly

  • The importance of the correct pressure cannot be overemphasised
  • Check the inflation of your tyres at least once a month - and if you drive regularly once a week!
  • Check tyre pressure before the tyres have heated up, i.e. before 10 km have been driven.
  • Check tyre pressure early morning (low ambient temperature) 
  • Use a good pressure gauge.
  • Incorrect inflation can lead to:
    • Abnormal, excessive wear and tear
    • Tyres overheating
    • With under-inflated tyres, as speed rises, excessive contact patch deformation leads to a wave being formed in the tread, which generates excessive heat, causing structural damage or even tyre failure.
    • The extra flexibility will affect steering behaviour, directional stability, durability and rolling resistance.
    • Even occasional low-pressure driving, or periodic vehicle overloading, may cause damage that only shows up much later as a blowout.
    • Fuel overuse
    • Sudden air loss.

Inspect the Wheel and Tyre for Damage 

  • Check tyres and rims for any accidental damage after impacting with potholes/curbstones or other obstacles in the road.
  • Check tyres regularly for punctures, penetrations, cuts and bulges.
  • Cuts in the tyre could permit damp to reach the casing plies. This is harmful to both textile and steel casings and will affect safety and tyre life. 

Check the Tread of the Tyre

  • Check your tread regularly to see if your tyres need replacing.
  • Treadwear indicators are located at the bottoms of the tread grooves in several locations around the tyre.
  • When a tyre is worn to the point where any of them become visibly flush with the adjacent tread ribs, it is time to replace the tyre.
  • Where there is a Tread Wear Indicator A tyre must have a tread depth of at least 1.6 mm across the tread width and have no portion of the ply or cord exposed.
  • One (1 mm) of tread over the entire surface is the law. [National Road Traffic Act]

What do we look out for on the Tread?

What do we look for on the Tread?

One-sided wear.
This takes various forms. A regular smooth band of wear all around the tyre on the inside or the outside of the tread is a sign of incorrect camber. Too much toe-in causes irregular one-sided wear.

Tread-centre wear.
Regular wear of this kind is normally a sign of high tyre pressure. Driving fast for long distances may cause this on low-profile tyres because travelling at 120 km/h wears a tyre out twice as fast as travelling at 70 km/h.

Inner- and outer-edge wear.
If both inner and outer edges are worn, it usually implies that the tyres have been run at too low a pressure at normal speeds.

Irregular bald spotting.
Known as cupping, this is usually caused by worn shock absorbers, worn suspension bushes, or even loose wheel bearings.

Balance Tyres to avoid irregular Tyre Wear

Balance Tyres to avoid irregular Tyre Wear

  • Your tyres should be balanced when they are mounted.
  • Unbalanced tyres cause vibration, which can lead to driver fatigue and premature, irregular tyre wear as well as unnecessary wear to your vehicle’s suspension.

Wheel Alignment will ensure Tyres run straight and true

  • Make sure your vehicle's wheels are properly aligned.
  • A vehicle is properly aligned when all suspension and steering components are sound and when the tyre and wheel assemblies are running straight and true, as per vehicle specifications.
  • If you notice uneven tread wear, this could be due to a misalignment and must be serviced by a professional.

Rotate your Tyres every 8000km-10,000km

  • Find out the proper rotation for your tyres.
  • Rotating the tyres regularly evens out the wear, but eventually, all the tyres will have to be replaced at the same time, which is expensive.
  • While many people are capable of rotating their own tyres, it is quick, easy and secure to let a professional do it for you.
  • Your vehicle's owner's manual will specify the proper rotation pattern and schedule for your vehicle.
  • If a specific schedule is not indicated, it is a good rule of thumb to rotate your tyres every 8,000 to 10,000 kilometres.
  • Tyre rotation is a very contentious area with many different opinions on the best way to rotate!
  • Consult a tyre expert on the best rotation of your tyres for your specific vehicle.

Inspect the Replacement Tyre recommended by the vehicle manual

  • A replacement tyre to be fitted must match the tyre recommended by the vehicle’s handbook or be an alternative approved by the vehicle’s manufacturer.
  • Once you use the replacement tyre, consult with the experts again on Wheel Balance and Wheel Alignment.

Do not mix Tyres - Keep the Same size, type and speed rating.

Do not mix Tyres - Keep the same Size, Type and Speed Rating.

  • For best all-round performance, it is recommended that all tyres are of the same size, type and speed rating.
  • Tyres should always be replaced with the same size designation as recommended by the vehicle or tyre manufacturer. 
  • Tyre brand, size and tread pattern must be the same on each axle.
  • All four tyres should be of the same size, speed rating and construction (radial or cross-ply). 

Always ensure that a Valve Cap is used.

  • Use good valve caps with rubber seals.
  • Missing valve caps should be replaced since they are there to prevent dirt from clogging the valves, which could cause a loss of air pressure.
  • Whenever a new tyre is fitted or an existing tyre repaired or removed for any reason it is required to replace the tyre valve with a new one.
  • It secures airtightness, extends the life of the tyre and influences the safety of the vehicle.

Punctured/Damaged Tyres must be removed from the Wheel for Inspection

  • All punctured or damaged tyres should be removed from the wheel for thorough internal and external inspection
  • This is done to ensure there is no hidden damage that might cause a failure later

When in Doubt - Ask a Tyre Expert!!

Well-maintained and safe tyres are too important to leave any room for doubt.

There are professionals in the tyre industry that could assist with the correct guidance.

For the best advice - contact a professional from the tyre industry!

Also view

Tyre Safety and Road Safety

Tyre Failure and Vehicle Fitness

The South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference [SATMC] and Road Safety

Vehicle Suspension and Safety on the Road

Wheel Balance, Wheel Alignment and Safe Driving


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