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TYRES: SOME COMMON FAQ’S AND THEIR ANSWERS

Safe tyres are essential to your safety on the road. This means not only ensuring the tyres you purchase are good quality and from a reputable supplier, but also that they are the right size and specification for your vehicle and driving requirements.

It’s also vital that you maintain them to ensure both their longevity and that they are always in the best condition for safe driving and your vehicle’s optimal performance.

The following Frequently Asked Questions may help you get to grips with some common questions about tyres and help with useful information to keep your tyres in tip-top condition.

Q. Why must I check my tyres and how often?

A. Regular checks on tyre pressures and the overall state of your tyres is a vital part of ensuring they are able to do their job in keeping you safe on the roads. Ideally tyres should be checked at least monthly and always before you embark on a long road trip or when your vehicle is loaded more than usual. Remember to include your spare tyre in these checks, as it will be no good to you if it is not in good condition and properly inflated.

Q. What exactly does checking my tyres involve?

A. Firstly, keep an eye on the tread of your tyres, to ensure they meet the Australian minimum legal requirements. Tread indicators (small rubber blocks at intervals across your tyres) enable you to check your tread depth. When the blocks are level with the rest of the tyre, your tyres will need to be replaced so that you can continue to drive safely and legally. While you may need a tyre expert with the correct tools to do an exact tread measurement for you, by doing frequent checks yourself you will be in a better position to notice when your tyres are starting to wear. Also check for any cuts in the tyre or objects such as nails which may be embedded, which could cause a flat tyre or other problems.

Secondly, check your tyre pressure and inflate or deflate as necessary – and don’t only wait to do this if they look flat. Remember that tyre pressures should be checked when the tyres are cool. As mentioned earlier, if your vehicle is carrying a heavier than normal load, tyre pressures should be increased (in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines).

Q. How do I know the right tyre pressure for my vehicle?

A. The correct tyre pressure for your vehicle will be on the inside of the driver’s door or alternatively in your owner’s manual.

Q. Why is it important to have my tyres at the correct pressure?

A. Over- or under-inflated tyres will impede their grip and possibly result in aquaplaning or other issues that compromise their contact with the road and your ability to brake and control the vehicle safely. Optimally inflated tyres also ensure more even tread wear, less likelihood of wheel rim damage and the best possible fuel efficiency.

Q. What is the minimum legal requirement for tyre tread depth?

A. In Australia, the minimum legal requirement for roadworthiness of passenger vehicles is 1.5 mm – although it is recommended you have at least 3mm tread on your tyres. When tyres are new they are usually between 6mm and 8mm.

Q. What are the penalties for tyres that don’t meet the legal requirements?

A. These vary from state to state, but may include both monetary penalties and demerit points.

Q. Why does tread depth matter?

A. Braking distance is greatly increased as tread wears, impacting on your vehicle’s overall safety. Having sufficient tread ensures you have good grip on the road, helps to remove water between the tyres and the road and reduces the chance of aquaplaning and loss of control.

Q. What is the lifespan of my tyres?

A. This depends a lot on the quality of the tyres as well the type of roads you are driving on, how often you drive and how well they are looked after and maintained.

Q. What causes irregular wear?

A. Tyres wear differently depending on many factors such as where there they are situated (front or rear), the type of vehicle and even your particular driving style. Other factors such as whether they are kept properly inflated will also have a direct impact.

Q. When and why should I rotate my tyres?

A. Rotating your tyres on a regular basis (about 8,000km to 10,000km) allows more even wear and provides the opportunity to extend the tread and life of your tyres and increase the ongoing safety of your ride. There are several different common types of rotation depending on whether your vehicle is a front drive or AWD including front and cross and 4 and 5 tyre rotation patterns.

Q. What do the sidewall markings on my tyre mean?

A. The tyre’s sidewall provide important information such as the manufacturer’s name or logo, tyre’s size, serial number, wheel diameter, load index (maximum weight in kg it can carry) and speed ratio (maximum speed when correctly inflated and under load).