We all know a car is not safe if its tyres aren’t up to scratch.
And frighteningly, the USA’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that around 400 fatalities occur each year due to tyre failures.
But with this in mind, how often do you check your tyres’ inflation pressure? Twice a year? Never?
Tom Ruessman, tyre specialist at Goodyear, says we should be checking our pressure every two weeks.
“I know people aren’t going to do that, but it’s important for a few reasons”, says Mr Ruessman.
Firstly, having under-inflated tyres can affect your fuel economy.
“You’re going to use fuel unnecessarily if your tyres aren’t properly inflated,” he says.
Not only that, but “tyre life is reduced, because it flexes and moves around more”.
Your tyre’s grip on the road can also be affected by under-inflated tyres (especially in the wet), as well as your braking distance.
Despite the clear benefits, Mr Ruessman is aware many people wouldn’t know how to check their tyre inflation, even if they wanted to.
He suggests avoiding the devices offered free at service stations, as they’re often treated badly and may give an incorrect reading.
“We recommend you get your own,” he says.
“Invest $10 or $20 in it and keep it in your car.”
Oh, and another thing you should be doing but perhaps haven’t been? Checking your wheel alignment.
Mr Ruessman advises getting this checked at your local Goodyear every six months, or more often if you’ve been in an accident or driven over a particularly nasty pothole.
So, the virtuous among us now know how often to check our tyre’s pressure – but when do we need to go the whole hog and change the whole set?
“It’s difficult to say a number of kilometres for certain,” says Mr Ruessman, who nonetheless estimates between 20,000 and 80,000 kilometres, depending on the type of vehicle and its power.
He says the best way to check is via a visual inspection.
“There’s a tread-wear indicator on every tyre that tells you when a tyre has been worn out,” he said.
“You can also look for uneven wear and surface damage from curbs and other things.”
One invisible killer can be old age: even if your car is rarely used and the tread looks fine, tyres older than five years need to be changed as they start to lose their suppleness.
Happily, you can easily tell the age of your tyre by checking the date stamped on the sidewall.
With a new set of tyres costing from $400 to $4000 and beyond, it not surprising that car owners are reluctant to pay their wheels the attention they deserve.
However, Mr Ruessman says keeping track of your tyres (including inflation, wheel alignment and any damage) can help to increase their life, save you money, and keep you and your passengers safe.
This article was proudly presented by Goodyear. All images via Shutterstock.