A Quick Tyre Safety Check May Be A Lifesaver

As the mild autumn weather approaches, it is peak time for families to set out on a much loved tradition: the motoring holiday. If you are planning a get- away road trip, a simple tyre safety check will significantly reduce your risks on the busy highways and could even make the difference between a life and death situation.

Follow this guide to complete a quick and easy tyre safety check. It will take only a few minutes at home or you can do it while filling the tank at the petrol station before heading out. You will also gain a better understanding about why these precautions are so vital.

Inspect Tyre Tread

Surprisingly, many Australians are unaware of the minimum legal tyre standards and the need for having a healthy amount of tread on all tyres. The law states it should be a minimum depth of 1.5 mm. You can check your tread with the wear indicators. These are the bars located at the bottom of the tread groove and moulded into several different locations around the tyre. When the bar is worn down to be level with the tread blocks it is time for replacement.

It is absolutely vital that tyres have sufficient tread because:

  • On a wet road, the tread grooves help pump water away from where the tyre contacts the road surface
  • As the tread wears down, the tyre grip on the road is considerably reduced and the motorist has less control of the vehicle.

This situation is exceedingly dangerous if the tyres become separated from the road surface and the vehicle aquaplanes. The driver then loses control as the tyres are not able to effectively transmit the necessary steering and braking facilities.

Check For Damage To Sidewalls

To get a good view of the tyres, turn the steering wheel to the full lock position. Get right down low and look out for nails, stones or screws or any objects that may lead to a flat tyre. The sidewalls are subject to potential damage from encounters with potholes, kerbs and foreign objects.  Check for any cuts, bulges or gouging. Get immediate attention from a tyre service if you detect any of these signs, as they may indicate impending tyre failure.

Gauge Inflation Pressures

Ensure that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure as recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. Correctly inflated tyres save fuel, wear evenly and maximise grip on the road surface. Always check carefully using a pressure gauge and do not forget to check the spare as well. Simply gauging the appearance of the tyre is not a reliable indication of its pressure and can actually be quite misleading, particularly with low profile tyres.

All cars have a tyre placard showing the accurate recommended tyre pressure. Most often this information is located in the driver's side door jamb. The pressure is indicated in kilopascals (kPa) or pounds per square inch (psi) and this refers to the pressure when the tyres are cold. It is best to check when tyres have not travelled too far, and thus become too warm to give an accurate reading.

Underinflated tyres are a serious safety risk as they will flex excessively and build up heat. This is the major cause of disastrous tyre failures known as blowouts. Also, if your vehicle is heavily loaded with holiday luggage and trappings or you are towing a trailer then you should inflate to a higher pressure than you use for your lighter day to day running.

Ultimately, it takes only a few minutes to ensure that your tyres are in the best possible condition to contribute to your safety. You can be assured that your tyres will provide a firm grip on the road, the best handling capabilities and optimal braking distances in both wet and dry conditions. For more information, contact a specialist like ACT Tyre, Brake & Mechanical.