Tyre pressures are critical. Your tyres are the only part of your vehicle in touch with the road. Badly serviced tyres are a major cause of accidents, so it is extremely important to keep them at the right pressure and in good condition.
In this article we explain the importance of ensuring correct tyre pressures, and also how you can go about checking your tyres.
Risks of Incorrect Tyre Pressures
If your tyres are at the correct pressure then you get optimal traction with the road. If they are too low the tyre will sag and deform and you will end up with too much friction. This will make the car slower and also harder to turn. Tyres will tend to “scrub” and wear, particularly with low speed manoeuvres. Low pressures typically mean tyres wear on the shoulders and not the mid section. This is easy to spot on a tyre.
If tyre pressures are too high, only the centre section will be touching the road and your car may lose grip. It will be easier to steer, but you risk losing traction with potentially fatal consequences. Tyres run at excessively high pressures typically show wear along the central tread of the tyre with less wear at the shoulders.
Are Fuel Saving Tyres Worth the Additional Cost?
Several manufacturers have begun advertising “fuel saving” tyres. Only about 10% of your fuel economy comes from the tyres, so a “fuel saving” tyre that saves 10% is actually only saving 10% of 10%, ie. 1%. If you are concerned about fuel economy from tyres then make sure they run at the right pressures, that will make a far bigger difference than running “fuel saving” tyres.
The easiest way to regularly check your tyre pressures is with a tyre pressure gauge, and keep it in your car. Tyre pressure gauges can be purchased from any car parts retailer or online store.
Things to Check
- Check for and remove any stones from the tread. If you find something like a nail in a tyre do not remove it. You may have an instant flat tyre. Drive to your local garage, and ask them to deal with the nail. Puncture repairs can only be made to the main central tread of your tyre; if the hole is in the shoulders or sidewalls, the tyre will need to be replaced.
- Check for obvious tears in the sidewalls, usually caused by hitting kerbs or potholes. If you can see cords below the rubber, the tyre should be changed immediately.
- Check for differential wear across the tyre tread. Worn in middle = pressure too high, worn on shoulders = pressures too low. Worn on one side = you need to get the tracking done.
- Look for any signs of cracking in the sidewalls, this is a sign of age and UV damage, the tyre will need to be replaced or you run the risk of a high speed blow out.