Leave tyre trouble behind
If they are in good condition, tyres not only absorb road shock & protect suspension, but also improve ride and handling, writes Rajiv Mitra.
Talk about tyres and what most owners will tell you is that other than once-in-a-while filling it up, they need no maintenance at all. And this cannot be further from the truth. Tyres in a car or a two-wheeler are responsible for many very important milestones. And these start right from determining the handling characteristic and, to a great extent, the ride quality too.
Some other interesting factors such as dynamic safety and fuel consumption of the vehicle are all directly influenced by the quality of the tyres being used. Even the life of the suspension system can’t remain unaffected by tyres.
Tyres in good condition absorb road shock and protect the suspension while at the same time they also improve the ride and handling. Given above are a few pointers to get the best out of the tyres in any vehicle.
Follow the owner’s manual to check the right tyre pressure for different wheels. It might be different for the front and the rear and the manual is the best guide, as it is specified by the manufacturer. Check tyre pressure every fortnight.
When checking the air pressure make sure you do it on cold tyres. Air expands when heated and if you have been driving for a while, the air inside gets hot and has expanded. Hence you are likely to get a wrong reading.
It is advisable that you buy a tyre gauge of your own as most petrol pumps have faulty gauges, which tend to give an erroneous reading.
Do not over-inflate or under-inflate the tyre. Over-inflation will result in wearing out of the centre of the tyre and will give a harder, bumpier ride. Under-inflation will cause the side of the tyres to wear out faster and the sidewall to crack. It can play play havoc with your fuel consumption.
For a longer life, rotate the tyres at regular intervals of 5,000 or 10,000 km. Again your owner’s manual will give you the right intervals and rotate them in the order recommended. Rotation helps prolong tyre life simply because the weights acting on different wheels are different and also the driving wheels e.g. in the front wheel cars tend to wear out faster. So rotation ensures an even tread wear for the entire set.
The balancing and alignment of the wheels are a must. If the wheels are not balanced or the car is out of alignment it will result in uneven tread wear. A tell tale sign is that the car will pull to one side. Put the car in neutral and let it roll on a flat surface. If the car pulls to one side chances are the wheels need to be aligned. If the steering wheel rattles at a high speed it might be because the wheels are not balanced. Check for these every 10,000 km or so, and this must be urgently addressed if you spot uneven tread wear, that is one side of the tyre wearing out faster than the other.
If you take care of the tyres on a small hatch like a Zen or even the Maruti 800, it should have a life of around 40,000 km. Properly inflated tyres will also improve your fuel average and this in the long run translates in to big savings.