It's not exactly a bold statement to say that tyres are an important feature of a car. But despite rather needing them to get your automobile moving, some people don't know a whole lot about them or how to look after them properly.
So let's change that! Here's just a few things you should know about tyres to get you started.
You know those kinda cool looking tread patterns on a tyre - they're not just decorative. There are different types and they actually perform quite specific and important functions.
Featuring the same pattern and continuous grooves across an entire tyre, these are the most common type of tyres and you can find these on the majority of non-high performance cars. Known for their longevity and versatility, non-directional tyres can be rotated in a number of ways, which adds to their convenience.
Featuring a large v-shaped pattern with large grooves that are designed for water drainage, these tyres are help reduce hydroplaning.
These semi-hybrids can generally be found on sports cars and come in multiple tread patterns. This maximises the grip and stability on both dry and wet roads whilst still allowing for good cornering.
If you're after a bit of everything, these tyres may be for you. The V-shaped pattern will discharge water, but you'll still get dry road performance from the asymmetrical tread.
Minimum Tread Level
The legal minimum tread for tyres is 1.5mm, so it's important to keep an eye on it. All tyres have wear indicator bars on the tyre tread, so this is easy to check. You can find these at the bottom of the tread groove around the tyre. If these bars are visibly worn it means the tyre needs to be replaced.
How To Read Your Tyre Size
You may have noticed the number around your tyres and not really thought much about them. They're actually quite important and help tell you what size they are! Let's use 215/60R15 as an example.
215: Section Width
This is the width, in millimeters. A tyre's width has to match the wheel it's being put on.
60: Aspect Ratio
This is the percentage of the tyre's sidewall height compared to the tyre's section width.
R: Construction Code
This indicates the tyre is manufactured with a radial ply construction.
15: Rim Diameter
The diameter of the rim is in inches and is measured from one side of the wheel flange to the other.
You can tell the age of your tyres by the tyres themselves - you just need to look closely at the sidewall. You'll most likely see the letters "DOT" followed by four numbers, which represent a week number and a year.
For example, if the numbers read "3012" the tyres were made in week 30 of 2012.
In general, you should avoid using tyres that are more than five or six years old, so be sure to use this information to buy tyres with the longest shelf life possible.
How Punctured Tyres Are Repaired
Punctures can generally be repaired, so long as they aren't through the sidewall of the tyre or are larger than 6mm. Tyres also won't be repairable if they are worn below the wear indicator bar.
A tyre is actually repaired from the inside out. It is first deflated and removed from the rim before the casing is sealed where the puncture occurred, making it airtight again. It's then refitted to the rim of the wheel and put back on your car.
How Long Can You Drive On A Spare Tyre?
You've probably noticed that spare tyres (aka 'donut's) tend to be smaller than regular tyres. This is mostly for convenience - they're lighter, don't take as much space in a boot and are easier to change.
But they aren't a long-term solution. Spare tyres lack durability and stability. They're just not safe.
Attempting to use a spare long-term will also put strain on your other tyres because they will wear unevenly, as well as your engine which will need to work harder to accommodate the mismatched sizing.
You should never drive faster than 80 km/h on a spare because the handling may be compromised. And you should make sure that you get it replaced with a proper replacement tyre as soon as possible.