It is raining and you are driving your family home from evening sports. Visibility is bad and the kids are tired. A car suddenly stops in front of you and so you hit the brakes. The difference between that scenario ending safely or badly could be the state of your tyres.
They might not be the most glamorous of parts on your car, but the band of rubber that sits around your wheel is what keeps the hulk of metal you are driving connected to the road. Many people only check or change their tyres is when the car fails its WOF.
However, especially now with WOF checks on cars registered from January 1, 2000, changing to 12 monthly, it is important to check your tyres regularly.
Buying new tyres
Most people head to the tyre shop after their car has failed its WOF to get new tyres. There they are presented with a range of different options and the deciding factor can be the price. However there are a number of other considerations to be made.
Safety is the first thing to consider – does it have a good grip?
Longevity is another - will it last?
There are a lot of different tyre brands on the market now and not a lot is known about some of them. The traditional old brands are usually the best bet. Brands such as Firestone do a range of tyres to suit budgets.
Bald is bad
Tyres need a good tread depth to perform, especially in the wet.
The deeper the tread the more water can be displaced and you have more grip. If there is no tread the water can’t go in there so you slide around on a film of water. Worn tyres are also more likely to blow out.
Wheels and so tyres on modern cars are getting bigger and bigger.
When you get those out on a lot of New Zealand coarse chip highways they are noisy, which a lot of people don’t like.
Traffic wardens can give tickets if your tyre is too worn. You can do a quick check of your tyres yourself. Put a 20 cent coin in the tread with the number facing you and if you can’t read the whole of the number you are probably okay. If you can read the whole of the number two the tyres are getting close to needing changing. Once a tyre gets down to having tread that is 2ml thick they should be changed.
It is important to keep your tyres inflated to the right pressure.
If the pressure is too low the tyre sags in the centre and wears on the outside edges. The opposite happens if they are pumped up to high. The tyre pressure should be what the manufacturer recommends, however as a general rule 32 psi will be okay. Correctly inflated tyres also give better performance and fuel economy.
If your car has a spare tyre or space saver then check it too and make sure it is not worn and inflated correctly.
Get them checked
The AA offers 16-point vehicle safety checks that include tyres, brakes, steering and seatbelts, so if your are not sure get it checked.