The holiday season is nearly upon us and that means parties, picnics and presents! It also means lots of driving to and from different events. Your friends and family may be scattered across the city, the state or event the country and you may be putting in a few miles behind the wheel this summer.
Before the silly season really hits, it’s a good idea to make sure you car is in tip top condition. Check out our post on Under the Bonnet Basics so that you know what you should be checking for under the hood. But one of the most important parts of your car to check would have to be your tyres! After all, they’re what keep you on the road. Tyre maintenance is often neglected and many drivers are unaware of proper tyre care, so here are some top tyre tips to keep you on the road this holiday season.
Establish a Routine
Once a fortnight, do a quick check of your vehicle – it only takes a few minutes. Look at things like your oil and washer fluid while you’re at it. This is also a good time to empty out any rubbish in your vehicle, as loose debris is a potential hazard during hard braking situations. And then of course there are your tyres. Have a look at your tyres, paying particular attention to the tread, condition and pressure.
Check the Tread
The tread on your tyres is what gives it grip on the road; worn tread can reduce your car’s ability to stop or handle appropriately. You should have at least 1.5mm of tread left around your tyres circumference or it’s time to replace them. Tyres without enough tread (under 1.5mm) are called ‘bald’ tyres and are actually illegal – if you get caught with them, you could lose demerit points and/or be up for a fine (the penalty varies by state). All tyres sold in Australia should be fitted with tread wear indicators, which show you how much tread you have left on your tyres so that you can stay safe and plan for replacement.
Check for Wear and Tear
Apart from wear and tear on the treads of the tyres, your tyres may have cuts, abrasions or embedded objects (like screws, glass or sticks). Bulges in your tyres may indicate additional problems and should always be looked at by a tyre specialist. Make sure your valve caps are screwed on tightly and they are clean from dust and debris, as dust and debris can keep the valve cap from sealing correctly and may cause air to leak from your tyre.
Put the Pressure On
Under-inflated tyres are extremely dangerous so make sure you top up your tyres to the right pressure periodically. Check your tyre pressure when the tyres are cold (pressure increases inside the tyres as they warm up) – first thing in the morning is the best time to check them. The appropriate pressure for your vehicle’s tyres can be found in your owner’s manual (it can sometimes be found on a sticker or plaque on the inside of the passenger door, too). Every vehicle is slightly different, so make sure you check the manufacturer’s specifications to get it just right for your ride. Most service stations have a spot where you can check your tyre pressure and top-up, free of charge.
Rubber (the material used to manufacturer tyres) deteriorates with time; tyres should be changed at least every five years, if not sooner, depending on their condition. When you replace your tyres, it’s a good idea to replace all four tyres at once, that way you can track the wear patterns and get your wheels aligned periodically to reduce wear.
Also, spare a thought for the spare – tyre that is! When you’re checking or replacing your tyres, don’t forget to have a thorough look at your spare tyre too. That’s the tyre that you’ll be relying on in a tyre-related emergency, so make sure it’s pumped up and ready to go!
The Final Word
Give your tyres a little TLC to ensure a smooth ride this holiday season; for even more peace of mind, consider Roadside Assistance cover to help you get back on the busy roads after an incident this festive season.