The year-end holidays are just around the corner and many of us are counting down the days for that trip away to our favourite holiday destination or to visit family members. For those planning to travel long distances by car these holidays, tyre safety should be top priority. “Your tyres are the only point of contact that your vehicle has with the road and therefore need to be in good working condition at all times to ensure your safety,” explains Dean Horn – Super Tyres Managing Director.
While human error is the biggest cause of car accidents on the road, badly maintained vehicles and poor tyre condition also significantly contribute to the national road toll every year. “Many accidents can be prevented by ensuring that tyres and shocks are kept in the best possible condition,” says Horn. The safety of both yourself and your passengers, along with the other road users, may very well depend directly on the condition of your cars tyres. “Tyres are what hold the vehicle securely on the road, allowing drivers to steer and stop safely. Tyres and shock absorbers are partners in maintaining your safety. Shock absorbers look after the tyres by keeping them on the ground, and the tyres literally hold your lives in their grip,” he adds.
Making sure that your tyre pressure, tread and wheel alignment is correct is critical for road safety. Approximately 20 percent of fuel goes towards overcoming friction between the car and the road, so ensure you have your tyres checked to help prevent unnecessary spending at the pumps.
Checking your tyre pressure to make sure that they are properly inflated can also make a significant difference in how long your tyres last. “Under or over-inflated tyres don’t wear evenly and won’t last as long. The front and rear axles and right and left sides of your car wear down your tyres differently. Rotating your tyres regularly helps extend the life of your tyres and improve performance. We recommend that you rotate your tyres every 10,000 Km,” says Horn.
It is advisable to check the date codes on your tyres to make sure that they are not older than 5 years. As tyres age, the rubber gets brittle and dry which can lead to poor grip and possible casing failure. “The week and year of manufacture can be found in an oval on the sidewall of the tyre. For example, a tyre with the date code: 0418 would have been manufactured in the 4th week of 2018, making it close to 3 years old now,” explains Horn.
To avoid any problems when driving to your vacation, practice these important tyre safety tips:
- Inspect your tyres: It is essential to regularly inspect your tyres for wear and any damage to avoid sudden problems. Have a professional inspect your tyres every six months. Always ensure that all four tyres are the same size as specified by the vehicle manufacturer as well and the same speed rating and load index (including your spare tyre).
- Check the air pressure: Driving with incorrect tyre pressure can affect a vehicle’s handling and braking, particularly in wet conditions, and can seriously compromise your safety. Driving on severely under-inflated tyres can cause heat build-up and eventually, premature failure. Check your tyre pressure monthly and before every long trip.
- Respect the load capacity: Do not exceed the load capacity relative to the tyre’s load index. Tyres loaded beyond their maximum loads can build up excessive heat that may result in sudden tyre damage with severe safety consequences.
- Check your shocks: Worn shocks won’t keep your wheels glued to the road, no matter how new your tyres are. In an emergency situation, applying brakes can cause your tyres to loose contact with the road, increasing the chance of an accident. Signs of worn shocks include: a vibrating steering wheel, bald patches on tyres and if the vehicle does not hug the road on bends and/or veers excessively in side winds. Be responsible and get your shocks inspected by a professional before any long trip.
- Inspect your spare tyre: Always inspect your spare tyre ahead of any long trip. Ensure it is pumped to the correct air pressure and is in good condition. If you see any damage to a tyre or wheel, replace it with your spare tyre and have your tyre checked by a professional.
“It is also very important to remember to sanitize and disinfect your vehicle before, during and after any trip,” explains Horn.
While we continue to disinfect our homes and workplaces, a car may often get overlooked, but is equally important. Clean the air conditioner vents by spraying them with a specialised cleaner and then remove and clean the filter. Clean high-touch surface areas such as the steering wheel, knobs, switches and buttons by using a car interior cleaner. Don’t forget to clean the interior and exterior door handles as well as your car key.
Whilst you’re planning your route and what to pack, don’t forget to make sure your vehicle is well maintained, safe and roadworthy. “If you are unsure about the condition and safety of your vehicle’s tyres and shocks, get them checked by a tyre specialist well ahead of the year-end rush,” concludes Horn.