Tyres are one of the most important components of any vehicle. Unfortunately, tyres can also be one of the most overlooked and poorly maintained parts of the vehicle. Most people simply don’t think about their tyres and end up driving around on worn or badly maintained tyres. And this can be bad for a number of reasons.
Let’s have a look at why it’s important to keep your tyres in good condition and how you can get the longest life out of them.
Why good tyres are important
Your tyres are the only parts of your vehicle that are in contact with the road. And of the whole tyre, it’s only the contact patch, a small area of the tyre about the size of the palm of your hand, that actually touches the road. It’s through these small contact patches that all cornering, steering, braking, accelerating forces are transmitted. So it’s vital to ensure that those sections of tyres touching the road are in the best condition possible.
Tyres have a huge affect on a range of driving factors from braking distance to road traction to vehicle handling. Worn or poorly maintained tyres can also affect vehicle performance, fuel efficiency and general wear and tear on your car. For example, unevenly worn tyres can increase vibrations while driving, which can increase wear and tear on a range of components including steering and suspension.
From a legal standpoint, your tyres can also affect the roadworthiness of your vehicle. Tyres that are in poor condition can lead to fines or defects for your vehicle.
How to tell when your tyres are worn
According to VicRoads guidelines, tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 1.5mm in all principal grooves. The principal grooves are the wide grooves that usually run through the centre of the tyre, but can run across the tread.
Most road tyres also have tread wear indicators moulded into the principal grooves. Once the tyre is worn to the legal limit of 1.5mm, the indicators should be level with the surface of the tread. However, it’s important to remember that these indicators are just a general guide. For best performance and safety, manufacturers may recommend replacing the tyres before they reach the level of the tread indicators.
How to get the best life out of your tyres
Your tyres will inevitably wear down over time. They are dealing with huge amounts of friction day-to-day and, of course, they aren’t designed to last forever. How quickly they wear will depend on a variety of factors including the quality of the tyres, how often you drive, the type of vehicle you’re driving, the quality of the roads you drive on and your driving style.
So while your tyres will wear down eventually, there are a number of things you can do to get the best possible life out of your tyres.
Maintain the correct tyre pressure
Keeping your tyres inflated to the correct pressure will ensure that they wear evenly across the tread. Proper tyre pressure is also important for ensuring maximum grip and road holding.
The recommended tyre pressures for your vehicle should be outlined in your owner’s manual. It’s worth noting that there will be some difference between the recommended front and rear tyre pressures.
You should check your tyre pressure every few weeks and adjust the pressure as necessary.
Rotating your tyres
Tyres wear out at different rates depending on whether they are positioned on the front or rear and what type of car you have. The front tyres on a front-wheel drive car will wear out the fastest, whereas the rear tyres will wear out faster on a rear-wheel drive. Rotating the tyres will ensure that they wear evenly and will help you to get a longer life out of your tyres. Tyres should be rotated every 5,000km.
How you drive will also affect how quickly your tyres wear down. Aggressive driving, with fast acceleration, hard braking and tight cornering will put more pressure on the tyres and wear the tread down faster. To maximise the life of your tyres, you should try to avoid spinning the wheels, extreme braking and general aggressive driving.
Regular wheel alignment and balancing is important for the smooth driving and handling of your vehicle. It also helps to reduce wear and tear and ensure even wear across the tread.
Eventually, your tyres will wear down and need to be replaced. But with a little care and maintenance you can get the longest life from your tyres and the smoothest, safest ride for your car.
VicRoads tyre maintenance guidelines…
- All tyres fitted to the road wheels of a vehicle, must be of a type constructed and certified for normal road use.
- Except at the tread wear indicators, tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 1.5mm in all principal grooves.
- The principal grooves are the wide grooves that are usually positioned in the central zone of the tyre but may run across the tread.
- Tread wear indicators are usually located in the principal grooves of the tyre and indicate the degree of tyre tread wear.
- Where tread wear indicators are provided, the tread must not be worn to the extent that any tread wear indicator contacts the road surface.
- A tyre is not unroadworthy if there is less than 1.5mm of tread in the secondary grooves, which are typically shallower than the principal grooves. Figure 1 highlights some key features of a typical tyre tread pattern.
- A tyre must not have excessive uneven wear across its width.