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How to care for your tyres ... before they start talking

Published:Sunday | October 13, 2019 | 5:32 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Automotives Writer

The tyres on your car lead a very hard life, from flexing for hundreds of kilometres every minute to rolling over bumps, iron, potholes, rough asphalt, concrete, stones, and gravel. The tyres on motor vehicles, slide on patches of oil, slosh through water and mud, and crunch over broken glasses, rusty nails, and debris of all sizes, shapes and texture.

As they roll along, the sidewalls and tread flex squirm, absorbing excessive flexing. heat builds up, and there is a chance of ply separation. All this happens while they support loads of 2,500 to 6,000 pounds or even more.

“The selection and maintenance of tyres is of paramount importance,” says Derrick Gentles, auto mechanic with over 40 year’s experience in the motoring and tyre world.

“In the first place, proper care will add thousands of miles to the life of the tyres, and few things can make a motor vehicle less safe than badly worn rubber,” says Gentles.

Gentles suggests that motorists make a habit of checking air pressure every week, whether the car is driven or not. He says also check the tyres when they are cool because when they are warm, their insides expand, and pressure readings taken under these conditions may be accurate.

Cleveland ‘Singer B Smith, tyre repair specialist for over 40 years, shares with our readers a few important tips to note:

1 Unbalanced wheels (including the tyres) can raise cain with tyre mileage.

2 A slight inspection will reveal if the tread is wearing off one section of the tyre faster than another.

3 Running one’s fingertips over the tread surface will also help; if one row of tread feels higher than another, chances are the tyre is wearing unevenly.

4 Check air pressure on a regular basis. This must be done with a quality pressure gauge. Check the air pressure when your tyres are cold. A cold tyre is one that has not been driven more than three miles for several hours.

5 It is best to check the air pressure in the morning before the car is driven.

6 Replace the tyre if it has the following physical damage: bulge areas, cuts that extend into the fabric, and excessive tread wear. Tread wear that leaves tread depth of 1/16 inch or less across two adjacent tread ribs is considered excessive. Measure the depth by placing a $5 or $10 coin in the rib at different spots. If the top of the head shows, the tread depth is too shallow.

7 Check each tread rib for embedded stones or other foreign material. Carefully pry them out with a screwdriver.

8 Remove the valve caps and wet the valve stems. If the water bubbles, there is a leak. Replace the valve core. Then inflate the tyre to a specified pressure.

The types of tread wear car owners will encounter while they talk clearly:

1 Tyre wearing unevenly over one or more spots. Check wheel balance.

2 Flat spots developing. Analyse the way the car accelerates.

3 Tread leathering along the edges. Check wheel alignment.

4 Scallops or cupping developing evenly over an area. Check for damaged suspension.

5 Tread wearing more at the edges of the tyre than in the centre. The problem is chronic underinflation.

6 Tread wearing more in the centre of the tyre than the edges. The problem is chronic overinflation.