Road trip snacks? Check. Perfect Spotify playlist? Check. Destination? Check. Tyres? Get them checked!
After months spent at home social distancing, it’s almost time to jump back in the car and hit the road for that dream regional or interstate trip. As Aussies prepare to swap planes for cars and holiday in the world’s best backyard this winter, car and tyre safety has never been more important. We chatted to Mitchell Golledge, Managing Director at Continental Tyres, the leaders in tyre safety, to find out everything you need to know about getting your car ready ahead of your next getaway.
Tyre flat-spotting is a common occurrence after a tyre has been parked stationary for a prolonged period. This happens when the area in contact with the ground creates a flat spot in the rubber as a result of a lack of movement. There are two types of flat-spotting: temporary and semi-permanent. A multitude of factors that will determine the severity of the flat spot including, size, load, internal structure, the ambient temperature, and the amount of time the car and tyre are stationary.
A temporary flat spot may cause a vibration which will typically disappear after a few kilometres. If it doesn’t disappear and you suspect that your tyre has a semi-permanent flat spot, make sure you take your car to be inspected by a professional.
To avoid flat-spotting, be sure to always regularly repark your car in different positions!
Ahead of a big trip, check your tyre pressure – this is paramount to vehicle safety. Having the correct tyre pressure is also a simple way to maximise fuel efficiency and mileage before you hit the road.
Tyres are best checked while they are cool, so before you get going, check your vehicle handbook to locate the recommended tyre pressures for your vehicle. Alternatively, this detail can be found inside the fuel filler flap as well as on the driver’s doorpost. Once you’ve got that sorted, head to your nearest service station to pump your tyres up with air for free – and before tyres get hot.
That said, it’s important you check your tyre pressure every month – not just before you’re headed on a lengthy drive. Tyre pressure is directly linked to vehicle performance, your car’s driving comfort, cornering, braking grip, handling behaviour, directional stability and longevity.
Tyres should be rotated every 10,000kms, and wheels should be aligned every two-to-three years.
Having your tyres regularly maintained by a professional will extend the lifespan of the tyre significantly – and save you money down the track. Having your wheels aligned, rotated and balanced will lead to a much smoother drive, improved fuel efficiency and reduced stress on your engine. This process takes only a short time and will increase your vehicle’s safety and performance dramatically.
To encourage your tyres to wear evenly, have them rotated and balanced every 5000km. Tyres showing unevenly worn tread are unsafe and more likely to slip in wet conditions – not ideal as we head into winter. Make sure you book this service in with a professional ahead of your road trip if you’re overdue.
Tucked away and out of sight, it’s often easy to overlook your spare tyre – that is, of course, until you need it. As mentioned earlier, tyre pressure is so important to overall vehicle safety, and in the event of an emergency, you want your spare tyre to be able to perform just as well as your original tyres.
Before you head off on your journey, check the tyre pressure on the spare and inspect for any visual damage. There is nothing worse than needing to use your spare tyre in an emergency and it not being up to the job.
Sometimes adequate tyre safety maintenance on your vehicle will mean more than checking, aligning, rotating and pumping with air.
Continental recommends that tyres are changed when the remaining amount of tread is at 3mm. If the depth of tread falls below this measurement, it will majorly affect the safety of your vehicle. Tyres should be changed immediately should they fall below the Australian legal tread depth limit of 1.66mm.
A great trick for checking this yourself is the 20c coin trick. Place a 20c coin into the tread of your tyre and if it doesn’t reach the bill of the platypus, it means there’s less than 3mm of tread remaining.
Also, keep an eye out for any signs of visual damage to your tyres – cracks, cuts, impacts and punctures are all reason enough to have the tyre checked out by a professional.