It could be argued that the tyres are the most important part of car safety as they are the only point of contact with the road. If you feel unsure that your tyres are correct for your car, or if you just want the condition of the tyres checked, drop into us at Peter Hanley Motors and we will be happy to check them for you. Proper tyre maintenance and care is very much about safety first, but it also ensures a more comfortable drive and can save money on fuel in the long run.
It is the tread on the tyre that keeps you safe and grips the road. Worn tyres reduce the control and the grip and can make stopping up to twice as long. The legal requirement is a tread depth of at least 1.6mm and anything less can cause a failure at NCT. This is a minimum dept and in adverse weather the minimum tread should be at least 3mm. You can check the tread with a euro coin. Pop it in and if you can still see the gold of the coin, the depth is less than 3mm. For maximum safety somewhere between 4mm and 8mm is probably optimum. If you drive with worn or damaged tyres you are putting yourself and others at risk. The fine for driving on worn tyres is up to €2,500 or a 3-month prison sentence, or both and 5 penalty points. If the Road Safety Authority take it that seriously, we should too!
The correct inflation is really important too. When you think about it, the pressurised air inside your tyres must support the weight of the vehicle. Make sure that the tyres are inflated to the correct tyre pressure. The vehicle owner handbook will help you with this. And while free air has disappeared from most petrol forecourts to be replaced with coin operated machines, the upside of this is that the inconsistency of pumping and watching the gauge rising is also a thing of the past. Now it is easy to pre-set the machine to inflate to the right specifications. Don’t over inflate! It’s not a balloon that will lose air in the coming hours and an overinflated tyre poses a risk of a blowout. And if safety issues are not enough to have you running to check the tyre pressure, you might be interested to know that underinflated tyres can mean greater fuel consumption.
Wheel alignment and balance and not the same thing. Wheel alignment means adjusting the wheel angles so that they are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. Aligned wheels will extend the life of the tyres as it prevents uneven wear. If you feel the car pulling a bit to one side when you’re driving on a straight road, it might be no harm to get the alignment checked.
Wheel or tyre balancing ensures that the weight of the tyre and wheel are balanced so that they spin smoothly at high speeds. To balance a wheel, it is placed on a balancer which centres the wheel and spins to determine where the weight is off and where small weights should go to make sure it rotates evenly. There are a few car symptoms that your wheels need balancing. The most common is a vibrating steering wheel which gets worse at higher speeds and tell-tale wearing of the tyres themselves.
In the past year and a half many cars were sitting up outside houses as people quarantined or drove less because of the pandemic. Tyre pressure can deflate as a car is immobile. If the car is left for a long time undriven, the deflation of the tyres may cause them to go completely flat. The weight of the car can do damage then and the tyres should not just be reinflated, but the wheel itself checked and the tyres possibly replaced. UV rays can attack the rubber if the car is left in the sun and in general it would be advisable to get an authorised garage to check the tyres if you haven’t driven for a while.
Now there is the six-million-dollar question. If you are under budgetary restrictions, you can find a tyre brand from a reputable manufacturer that will see you driving safe and happy for two to five years, depending on how well you look after the tyres, the driving surfaces and your own driving habits. If you want to spend more there are plenty of expensive and exclusive brands to choose from. A pricey tyre does not mean that the tyre will last longer, but it may mean a more comfortable ride and of course, the tyre should match the car manufacturers specifications. Help the car out by checking regularly that the tyres are correct for the make and model. Every tyre has a short four-digit number on the external sidewall. This is the DOT code, or the date of birth for the tyre. The first two numbers are the week of manufacturer and the last two are the year of manufacture. For advice on the right tyres for your car and the best in quality and value, just pop in and check with any of the team here at Peter Hanley Motors.
Winter tyres are made from a softer rubber, and this allows for retaining flexibility in colder temperatures. Changing to winter tyres is not a legal requirement in Ireland but if you are concerned about driving on ice and snow, they do provide more grip as they have deep grooves. If you do get winter tyres, bear in mind that they behave differently in hot weather and the softer tyres can overheat even in an Irish summer. Summer tyres are unsurprisingly the exact opposite with a less pliable and rigid rubber. This increases grip to the hotter roads in the summer season and give more traction. However, if you drive the winter roads in your summer tyres you will slip and slide and have a lot less grip. It is as unwise as wearing your flip flops in the snow. The perfect and convenient solution is an All-season tyre. They are neither the hero of the hot weather driving or freezing conditions but work adequately in both. These are the most popular for Ireland’s temperate climate.
Tyres are your vehicles safety and its performance. If you have any worries about your tyres, don’t delay in getting them checked and replaced if necessary.