How to ensure your tyres are safe before a summer roadtrip
Summer has well and truly arrived and Kiwis everywhere are hitting state highways armed with sunblock, snake lollies and sandy jandals.
If you’re heading away soon, it’s worth checking the condition of your tyres as they wear down quickly on hot roads and long trips, making your car unsafe to drive. Here are a few simple checks to make sure your tyres are in good condition.
1. Visual Check
Before you head off on a long road trip, it’s a good idea to, at very least, perform a quick visual check of your tyres. Are they sagging at the bottom, or bulging around the sides? This may indicate that they’re over- or under-inflated and should be checked more closely.
TLook for uneven wear, embedded nails or sharp objects and any cracks or bubbles in your tyres. If you find anything that looks irregular, your best bet is to take it to a professional to check.
2. Pressure test
The pressure of your tyres will dictate how your car handles, how much gas it uses and how it reacts in an emergency situation. Needless to say, if your tyre pressure isn’t right, your car isn’t safe to drive.
Most cars have the correct tyre pressure for the car printed on a metal placard, which is usually located on the driver’s door pillar. If you can’t find, it’s always best to ask an expert. Luckily checking and correcting your tyre pressures is easy and free at most gas stations, and should be done at least once a month or before long trips.
3. Tread depth
For your own safety, and that of other motorists, it’s illegal to drive with tyres that have under 1.5 mm of tread. Look for little black rectangles inside the grooves of your tyre’s tread – these are called wear bars. If the rest of your tyre is flush with the wear bar, that means your tread’s too shallow and it’s time to replace your tyres.
If you can’t find wear bars on your tyres you can also use a 20 cent coin to check. Pop the side with the 20 on it into your tyre’s tread – if you can see all of the number 20 that means your tyres are too worn and need replacing. On the other hand, if you’re unsure or you’d rather not check yourself, it’s always best to drop in and see the pros for peace of mind.
4. Your spare
Like most Kiwis, you’re probably hiding a forgotten tyre in your boot, under beach towels and fishing gear – the underappreciated, underrated spare. This tyre can be an absolute lifesaver on a long road trip, and yet it’s so rarely checked or maintained.
If the tyre’s been used before, it’s worth going through all of the above checks before you go on a long trip. Whether it’s been used or not, it’s also worth checking its age – if its six years or older, it should only be used in emergency and if it’s a decade or older, it should be replaced immediately.
5. Forming a habit
Turning these quick checks into habits makes it easier to do them consistently and ensure your tyres are always road-trip-ready.
Try to remember to visually scan your tyres every time you go on a long drive, check your tyre pressure every time you pop into the gas station, test your tyre tread depth once a month on a certain day, and have a look at your spare at least once a year (pop them in your calendar if you’re forgetful).
It’s always worth spending 5 or 10 minutes checking to make sure you arrive safely at whichever Kiwi Paradise you’re headed to this summer. Or, if you’d rather have a professional look over your tyres for peace of mind, drop into Express Tyres in Morrinsville, Matamata or Whakatane today and they’ll take care of it for you.
Most importantly, Merry Christmas and Happy New Years! Drive safe and have fun this summer, from the team at Nicholson Autos and Nicholson Express Tyres.