Driving away from a tyre bay on tyres so new that they still retain their labels can cause mixed feelings. Often, replacing car tyres is carried out to remain safe and legal, which is comforting. Sometimes, a set of replacement tyres must be bought far too early, because the originals went nowhere near fulfilling their expected life, through neglect and/or misuse. This scenario is irritating at best so knowing how to get the most out of your car tyres is valuable.
We all know tyres don’t last for ever but there are mechanical faults, road conditions and driving habits that significantly shorten tyre life. Let’s start at the ground and work upwards.
If a car’s wheels are misaligned, the tyres won’t live long, it’s a simple as that. Having your car’s wheel alignment checked and fixed if necessary isn’t desperately expensive and pays dividends in tyre life, performance and comfort. Under or over-inflated tyres also acquire strange wear patterns and stranger habits on the road – and they wear out sooner. Equally, wheels in need of balancing can compromise comfort, grip and tyre longevity; much the same goes for ineffective shock absorbers.
In many respects, your car tyres’ life is as much in your hands as your life depends on your tyres. Accelerating savagely, braking spectacularly and cornering to the squeal of tortured rubber may seem thrilling but such practices shred your treads depressingly quickly. You can’t, in general, choose the kinds of roads you travel upon but there are known tyre killers that you’ll certainly encounter. Dealing with these in the correct way can enhance your tyres’ life, your car’s life and your comfort. Whether you call them speed bumps, sleeping policeman or traffic calming measures, the potential outcome is the same.
The first rule is to never straddle a speed bump; doing so can knock your car’s suspension out of alignment. Doing so repeatedly can damage your car’s springs and suspension too. If you cross speed bumps with either the left or right wheels, your car will suffer less. Similarly, if you take a gung-ho approach to speed bumps and speed pads, you’ll pay in the long run. This even affects big, tough 4×4 vehicles so don’t be misled. Slow down, as the bumps necessarily dictate.
Kerbs are not so far removed from speed bumps, either in terms of their location or the damage they can do. Look in any busy town centre and it won’t be long before you see someone allowing their car’s wheels to mount a kerb or two. It’s an unarguable fact that despite the cushioning effect of the tyres, car wheels always come off worse in a fight with a kerb. This is especially true of alloy wheels, which are relatively soft and easily damaged. This can be verified in the abovementioned busy town centre. You won’t have to look far to find a wheel with a piece taken out of the rim by a kerb, or with an edge raked down to bare metal by the same culprit.
The bottom line here is that looking after your car and its tyres pays dividends, in terms of performance, comfort, longevity – and financially.