Make tyre safety a 2014 trend
New Year’s resolutions are usually fickle and seldom see the light of January 2, but Bridgestone South Africa has called on motorists to make a resolution that is easy to uphold and can reduce crashes on our roads …
“Many crashes in South Africa arise from tyre failure,” Bridgestone Field Engineer manager, Bester Betha, explains. “By knowing what to look for and getting into the habit of regular tyre checks, motorists can considerably reduce their risk of tyre failure.”
One of the most important things to monitor is the pressure of your tyres, as this gradually deteriorates over time and can be accelerated by a slow puncture or leaking valve. Bridgestone states that it is important to check tyres at least once every two weeks in order to pick up on any unusual trends; such as a tyre that’s losing pressure faster than its rubbery friends.
And, before you check a tyre’s pressure, ensure that the valve cap is still present. This prevents dust from getting into the valve which can cause it to leak. A good indication of whether a tyre is over- or under-inflated is its wear: if it’s wearing more in the middle than on the shoulders it’s probably over-inflated. And if it’s wearing more on the shoulders then it’s likely to be under-inflated.
But you must always use a reliable tyre pressure gauge to verify the pressures and only check pressure when the tyres are cold. The air in tyres expands as it heats up and this causes the tyre pressure to increase, which is perfectly normal. However, if you deflate a hot tyre to the manufacturer’s recommended pressures it may actually become under-inflated, which leads to increased heat build-up in the tyre and the risk of a blowout when you next drive.
Also inspect the wheel itself for things like grease or oil leaks, which could mean that there is a problem with a wheel bearing. Bridgestone cautions that if you notice large amounts of grease on the inside of the wheel rim, a constant velocity joint boot might have torn … .
Examine the wheel nuts and bolts as well. If one has worked loose, it’s a sign that you need to check the others. Now turn your attention to the tyre itself. Are there any cuts, bulges or bruises on it? If so, it’s likely to be illegal, not to mention dangerous … A bulge on a tyre is caused by internal damage that has allowed air to leak through the plies – so you are at risk of a blowout!
Once you’ve finished checking all your tyres, remember to replace the valve caps and set a reminder on your phone or computer to do your next check after two weeks. “A complete and thorough check of a car’s tyres takes less than five minutes,” Betha points out. “If all motorists carried out these regular checks, many fatalities on South African roads could be prevented,” he concludes.