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The Importance of Tyres for Safety on the Road

Safety - 27 February 2019

Do drivers really understand the importance of tyre safety and what it involves?

Failing to maintain your tyres can put your life and the lives of your passengers and other road users at risk. Worn tyres reduce the control and grip you have on the road, can double the distance it takes for you to bring your car to a stop, and may increase the risk of punctures and blowouts.

To ensure that you reach your destination safely, check your tyres’ pressure and tread regularly, and examine them for any internal or external signs of damage. It’s also important to notice if your car is shaking unusually or producing any strange sounds, as these could be indications of tyre-related problems.

A tyre specialist will be able to help you assess your tyres thoroughly, and will ensure that your tyres are properly balanced, aligned and rotated. Taking these simple steps not only keeps you safe on the road, but also increase your tyres’ longevity and save you money.

The answers to all your questions about tyre safety

As the only part of your car that has contact with the road, your tyres are directly responsible for getting you from A to B safely. To do this, it’s critical that they’re in good condition. This means that they must have sufficient tread, the right pressure, and no internal or external signs of damage. It’s also important that they’re the right size for your car and they have been properly balanced and aligned.

But despite the importance of driving with safe, roadworthy tyres, many drivers neglect theirs until there’s a very obvious problem or, even worse, until an accident takes place and it’s too late. Which begs the question: Do we really understand the importance of tyre safety and what it involves? Here, we answer this and other tyre safety-related questions to ensure that you and your vehicle reach your destination without a scratch.

Why are worn tyres dangerous?

Worn tyres are responsible for 70% of all accidents on the road and over 9,000 deaths a year – accidents and deaths that could have been prevented. If your tyres haven’t been properly maintained, they can negatively affect everything from your steering to your acceleration and braking. Worn tyres can double the distance necessary for you to stop, putting your life and the lives of your passengers and other road users at risk.

Tyres that are bald, under or overinflated, or unevenly worn can increase the possibility of punctures and blowouts, which could cause you to lose your grip on the road. This is particularly dangerous in wet conditions, when you car could aquaplane.

What does the law say?

The safety of your tyres is so important that it is regulated by law. In South Africa, you have to have a minimum tyre tread depth of 1mm across the width of the entire tyre. If you fail to meet this requirement, you could be fined or your car could be impounded. What’s more, if you’re in an accident and your tyre tread is below the legal limit, your insurance company will likely refuse to pay your claim.

What should your tyre safety checklist contain?

There are several important criteria that you need to bear in mind when it comes to tyre safety:

  • Keep the pressure on
    Tyre pressure differs from car to car. To make sure yours is correct, look at your manual or at the label on the side of the driver’s door, remembering that your front and back tyres might have different pressure requirements. Check your pressure regularly – at least once a month – and always when your tyres are cold. This means that your car should have been standing for at least three hours beforehand, and that you shouldn’t have travelled more than 1.6km before arriving at your nearest garage or tyre specialist.
  • Tread carefully
    You can check your tyre tread yourself by placing the head of matchstick between the grooves of the tread. If the tread is below the matchstick’s head, it’s time to get to your nearest Supa Quick fitment centre. The same applies if your tread is below your tyre’s indicator bar, which can be found at certain points between the grooves. Remember that it’s normal for your tyres to wear consistently, but that irregularities could indicate that your tyre pressure isn’t right, that your wheels are misaligned, or even that there’s a problem with your car’s suspension.
  • Beware of bubbles
    Does your tyre have a strange bubble, bulge or blister? That’s not a good sign. Unusual bumps indicate that something has been damaged within the tyre and that it needs to be replaced.
  • Give those sidewalls the side-eye
    The sidewalls of your tyres should be free from any cracks, splits, cuts or abrasions. These can occur if your tyres encounter hazards on the road, if your pressure is too low or if your car is overloaded. If you notice any of these signs, take your car to a technician straight away.
  • Feel those shakes, rattles and rolls
    Of course, making sure that your tyres are still in good condition isn’t just about inspecting them, it’s also about being sensitive to how they feel to drive. If your car is vibrating in an unusual way, or producing strange and concerning sounds, it could be an indication that there’s something wrong with your tyres. A mechanic will be able to assess all the possible problems, whether tyre-related or otherwise.

What should you do to get the most out of your tyres?

The tyre safety motto is simple: look after your tyres and they’ll look after you. Keeping a close eye on the checklist above and visiting a tyre specialist to balance, align and rotate your wheels at least every 10,000km will keep your tyres in shipshape. Also, if you hit a pothole or an obstacle in the road, it’s always a good idea to have a technician inspect your tyres for any damage. Although they might look and feel normal to you, an expert will be able to spot any problems that could put the integrity of your tyres – and your safety – at risk.

Finally, it’s as important that you maintain the tyres that are attached to your car as you maintain the tyre that isn’t. If anything goes wrong, it’s your spare that will take you from the side of the road to the nearest middle-of-nowhere town. All of the checks you perform on your tyres apply to your spare too. It’s also necessary to replace your spare occasionally, even if it’s only rarely used, as spare tyres are especially susceptible to losing their structural integrity over time. 

Having your tyres regularly inspected by a tyre specialist not only keeps you safe, it can also increase your tyres’ longevity and save you money. To find out how Supa Quick can help you, contact your nearest Supa Quick fitment centre today.

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