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Check your tyres.
Checking your tyres is a very quick and easy task. Usually you will not need any sort of tools to carry out this check. You should visually check the tyres for tread depth and condition. Another important thing to check is the condition of the tire side walls. Any damage should be further investigated by a trained mechanic or tyre fitter.

You may wish to buy a tyre tread gauge This small tool can be very useful for taking accurate measurements of your thread depth.

You should also make a point of regularly checking your tyre pressures. Please consult your owners manual or log book for the correct pressure settings.

When checking tyres you should also look out for abnormal wear. For example excessive wear at both outside edges of a tire may indicate that your tire pressure is to low, if there is more wear at the centre then the tire may be over inflated. If there is a lot more wear on one side as opposed to the other then your wheel alignment may need to be adjusted. Please consult a mechanic regarding this.

A cars tyres are the only part of the vehicle that makes any contact with the road surface, for this reason the tyres play a critical role in the handling and safety of the entire vehicle. Tyres are critical for steering and braking. Tyres should always be in a safe condition.

Tyre safety

The tread

Tread depth
The Current laws on car tyres are very strict. Any tyre fitted to a car must have at least 1.6mm across the centre 3/4 of the tread. The diagram above is a simple way to demonstrate this.

You can measure your tyre tread depth using a depth gauge, these are available from most car parts and accessories stores. Most tyres also provide a warning that the tread is getting low called a "tread wear indicator" The tread wear indicator is designed to alert you just before your tyre reaches the legal limit.

The above picture shows a tyre with a clear tread wear indicator. You can see that the tread is deeper that the indicator. If the walls of the tread where only as high as the tread wear indicator it's self then you would know your tyre is at or below the legal tyre tread level. Once the tread wear indicator and the tread surface become flush there is no way of telling just how much below the legal limit you actually are without taking a reading using a tyre tread gauge.

Tyre sidewall
The side wall of your tyre is a vital part of the tyres structure. You should check your tyres sidewall condition periodically. Damage to the side wall of the tyre is the most common cause of tyre blowouts. If you find any damage in your sidewall you should have it checked out as soon as possible. Generally speaking any minor cut that extends for 25mm or more is not safe, as is any serious cut of any size. If in any doubt have it checked by a tyre centre or competent mechanic.

Tyre pressure
Correct tyre pressure is vitally important for tyre safety. Incorrect tyre pressure can not only reduce the lifespan of a tyre, it can also be dangerous. Your tyre tread wear can be an early indication if tyre problems.

More wear in the centre of the tyre usually means the tyre has been over inflated, more wear to the outside edged of the tyre generally means the tyre is running under inflated. It makes sense to check your tyre pressures at least once a week.

You can find your correct tyre pressure settings by consulting your vehicles handbook or asking your dealer. It is important to follow your manufacturers guidelines.

You should also check the tyre pressure for your spare wheel, you never know when you will need to fit it to the car.

Replacing tyres
If a tyre is worn or damaged to the extent that it needs to be replaced it is important to choose a tyre that is suitable for the vehicle it will be fitted to. In most cases the garage or tyre centre who fit the tyre will be able to make recommendations.

It is also worth spending a little more to get a good tyre as opposed to a bad tyre. I recommend against ever buying "part worn" tyres. You just do not know the history of the tyre. It may have been involved in a serious collision or it may have been discarded.

There are reported cases of tyres that had been disposed of in landfill being sold on to motorists as part worn tyres.

Choose a tyre that is new, is of the correct size and of the correct speed rating for your vehicle. Again the garage of fitting centre who fit your new tyre will be able to make recommendations.



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