Car Ownership Advice 14 June 2022

Tyre Maintenance: Have you been caring for your rubber?

The words “car safety” might make you picture airbags and seatbelts, but tyres are just as important when it comes to the safety of your vehicle. As the only part that comes in contact with the road, tyres need a safe tread level so you can maintain course without slipping and sliding around in the wet. They also need to be properly inflated to ensure that your ride is as stable as possible.

A worn tyre left unnoticed can become a real hazard, so make sure you check your tyres regularly. Notice damage or wear? Give your local mycar service centre a call and we’ll sort you out with some fresh kicks for your car — we can even come to you with our mobile tyre service. (In QLD only)

How do you take care of tyres?

There are universal maintenance rules for under the bonnet — every now and then, top up with water, oil or coolant. But how do you keep your tyres in good condition? With no moving parts or fluids necessary, what maintenance do they really need? Luckily, the answer is simple; just a quick check of your tread, tyre condition and air pressure every month.

If you’re not sure what to look for, follow this tyre maintenance checklist to keep your tyres in good nick:

1. Tyre pressure: Under inflation chews through extra fuel and can cause irreversible damage to the tyre, while over inflation can increase vibration and affect breaking and handling. So next time you’re going past the servo, pull in and check your tyre pressure, and inflate if necessary. Your car will have the correct tyre pressure (PSI) written on a sticker just inside your driver’s side door, or in the manual.

2. Tyre surface: Have a look for wear and damage. This can be done while you’re checking the tyre pressure. Examine the surface of each tyre carefully, noting any cracks, bulges or punctures, as well as low or uneven tread levels. If you find any issues, swing in to your nearest mycar.

3. General issues: If you notice damage, balding, wear, vibrations through the steering wheel or issues with the car pulling to one side while driving, book in with mycar and we’ll check it out for you.

Why you should rotate your tyres

Rotating your tyres every 5,000-10,000km will help lengthen their life along with regular wheel alignments, save you money and keep you safer on the roads.

Why do we need to rotate tyres? It boils down to your car’s weight distribution. Most cars are designed with their engine up front. All that equipment makes a heavy load and puts more pressure on the tyre’s underneath. For this reason, the front tyres will tend to wear differently to those on the back, the front will generally wear the shoulders of the tyre and the rear’s the centre of the tyre. One simple way to extend the life of each tyre and ensure a more even wear is to swap them around.

So, does it matter how each tyre is rotated? It turns out, it does. For a front-wheel drive car, the front tyres will go straight to the back, while the rear tyres will come to the front and switch sides. In a rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, this is reversed - the rear wheels move forward, and the front ones go back and swap to the opposite sides.

Why is regular tyre maintenance important?

If you're not much of a car person, pulling into the servo to adjust your tyre pressure and give them a thorough inspection probably seems like the opposite of a good time. In the long run, though, it’s worth the bother for a couple of reasons.

The first is it can save you money in the long run: by keeping them well rotated and in good nick for longer, you’ll go further with your tyres and won’t need to replace them as frequently. Well-maintained tyres also contribute to better fuel economy, saving you bucks at the bowser. But most importantly, keeping your tyres in good shape makes for a safer, more comfortable ride.

Tyre lifespan explained

There are a few different factors that will influence how long your tyres last:

  • The type of car you drive
  • The kinds of roads you take
  • How far and often you drive
  • How frequently you check the tyre pressure
  • If there is any damage or uneven wear.
  • How regularly you have wheel alignments, rotations and balances

One thing you can count on is keeping up regular maintenance will help you get the most tread to keep you on track.

How often should tyres be replaced?

While it’s hard to put an exact timeframe on how long you can expect your tyres to last, there are some signs that will tell you if you’re due for a replacement.

The average passenger car might get up to five years from a quality set of tyres and will definitely need a new set if they haven’t been changed in the last decade, as the rubber degrades and loses its strength over time. If you do a lot of driving on rough roads or use your vehicle to pull or carry heavy loads, you may be up for new tyres sooner rather than later.

Knowing when to change tyres can be tricky. Damage and uneven wear are clear signs that you need to swap out your old tyres for new ones, but even regular wear may signal that it’s time to book in with your mechanic. The minimum tread depth in Australia is 1.5mm — anything less than this is considered unroadworthy, illegal and is unsafe to drive on. A quick way to check your tyre tread depth is to look for the tread wear indicators, which are small blocks inside the grooves which indicate a safe tread level. If the tread has worn down to the height of these blocks, it’s time to replace the tyre.

Your tyres are wearing on the outside or unevenly…what next?

There are a few reasons you might notice uneven tyre wear. Here’s what to do if you notice your tyres are wearing unevenly:

  • Wearing through the central part of the tread: Typically caused by the tyre being over-inflated, simply lower the pressure to the recommended PSI (found in your driver’s side door frame).
  • Shoulder wear: If the outer part of the tread is wearing down, you may have under-inflated tyres that need to be pumped up. This kind of wear can also happen when you do a lot of hard cornering and can be managed by rotating the tyres.
  • Wear on one side: often caused by the wheels being out of alignment, or worn-out suspension. If you notice this kind of wear, book in to get it checked out by your mechanic or bring it into mycar for a wheel balance and wheel alignment service.

Tyre repair vs tyre replacement

Got a puncture in an otherwise good tyre? Depending on the location of the hole, it may be possible to get away with a simple puncture repair. In cases of normal wear, rotating the tyres can buy you more time before you must replace them. However, if the tyres have become too worn or sustained damage that makes them unsafe, it’s time to book in for a new set.

If you need new tyres, or you just need a check, wheel into your local mycar today.

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