When we’re car shopping and we start to think about safety features, we generally tend to ask about things like airbags and brake assist; features that have the sole purpose of protecting us in the event of an accident. But what we sometimes fail to recognise is the importance of the car’s tyres in keeping the car firmly planted on the road. We tend to think of them as just another moving part among a series of other moving parts that make up these vehicles that get us from A to B. The fact is, though, that your car’s tyres are the first line of defence against a situation that could result in serious harm, or worse.
Damaged tyres will reduce your car’s handling capabilities and increase its braking distance. This means that in the event that you need to suddenly brake or swerve to avoid an accident, the chances of ending up in a collision dramatically increase when your tyres aren’t up to scratch.
Tyres should therefore be looked after with the same amount of care as any other safety feature. Following some basic tyre safety tips can not only help prolong the life of your tyres but also help keep you and your family safe.
Check Your Tyres
It’s a good idea to get into the habit of doing a quick visual check as you approach your car. It may not be precise, but it’s pretty easy to spot when a tyre has lost pressure, so just a quick glance before jumping in will let you know if there is anything drastically wrong.
Sometimes you’ll need to do a little more than just a quick glance, though. Everybody should regularly check the tyre tread to make sure they are still safe (and legal) to use.
There are a few things look out for when checking your tyres, including:
The minimum legal depth for tread is 1.6mm. Simply use a texter to mark out 1.6mm on a stick or piece of cardboard or whatever you have lying around that will fit in a tread groove. If it is shallower than the marking then it’s time to book the car in for some new tyres. In fact, it’s not a great idea to let the tread get that low at all.
When checking the tread wear, feel and look across the whole surface that contacts the road. If there is a varying degree of wear from the outside edge to the inside edge of the tyre, then this likely means the car has an issue with wheel balance or alignment. If they aren’t properly balanced and aligned then certain parts of the tyre will be under more pressure, causing increased wear. This is particularly dangerous as it can go unnoticed if the increased wear is occurring on the inside of the tyre. The outside may appear fine but the inside may become dangerously worn without you even noticing.
If this is the case you will need to book it in for a wheel alignment—and probably some new tyres too.
Cracks and bulges
Other damage, such as cracks or bulges can be caused by misalignment, improper inflation or driving on poor road surfaces. They will disrupt the integrity of the tyre and reduce their performance, becoming a safety hazard. Run your hand along the circumference of each tyre to identify the presence of any such signs of damage.
And remember, there aren’t four wheels on your car, there are five—check the spare as well.
Maintain the Right Tyre Pressure
Cars have tyre information placards that are specific to the exact make, model and year. So, for example, a Skoda Octavia wagon’s tyre placard will tell you the size of the tyre, and the optimum pressure that they should be running at. Use this information to check your tyre pressures every now and then at the service station after fuelling up. If you can’t find the placard, the user manual will also contain this information.
Learn to Change a Tyre
No matter how faithfully you stick to these tyre safety tips, sometimes things just happen on the road which may lead to a flat tyre. Shockingly, around 75% of millennials don’t know how to deal with such a situation. This isn’t just an inconvenience, it is also a safety hazard, as tyres don’t always wait for a safe patch of road before blowing out. Being able to quickly get back on the road is often much safer than waiting for roadside assistance.
Skodas come with a range of state of the art safety features, so keeping your tyres in check is really all you need to do to ensure the highest standard of protection for you and your passengers. Now go and check your tyres and then head on over to your local Skoda dealership to arrange a test drive in our range of world class cars.