Buying and taking care of your tyres
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Tyres are the only source of contact between your car and the road. While tyres are important to a car’s safety and economy, many drivers don’t take the time to check the basics, such as tyre depth and pressure.
You’re likely to fail your Warrant of Fitness (WoF) if they’re not up to scratch, and it’s often during your annual inspection where problems are brought to the surface. For conventional tyres, the minimum legal depth is 1.5mm.
With temperatures dropping and wet days becoming more frequent, it’s even more important to maintain tyre health and not wait until your WoF to discover that your tyres are unfit for our roads.
We’ve compiled some tips to help you stay on top of your tyre maintenance.
Checking your tyres is easy
Many people don’t realise that you can quickly measure the tread of your tyres using a 20c coin.
The bottom of the “20” is approximately 2mm from the edge of the coin, so with the number facing towards you, insert the coin into the tread of the tyre. If you can read the whole number then your tyre is around the legal threshold and it’s time to replace it.
If the “20” is still partly concealed, then you know that the tread of your tyre is within the legal guidelines.
Note that mud and snow tyres (often marked with M+S) have a legal requirement of 4mm.
Tyres with a low pressure can sag in the centre, causing wear on the outside edges, which also affects handling and braking.
Tyres that are overinflated wear unevenly, have reduced grip on the road and can increase your car’s stopping distance.
As a general rule, 32psi is acceptable for most tyres, but some newer tyres can hold more pressure. If you’re unsure, check the owner’s manual or consult with the manufacturer who will be able to provide the precise information.
It’s always a good idea to check your spare or space-saver tyre as well.
Make sure it’s correctly inflated, look for any signs of wear and check that it’s secure in its holder with all of its tools. Used cars can sometimes be missing these tools, so make sure to double check.
It’s easy to forget and neglect this tyre, but you’ll be kicking yourself if you ever break down at the side of the road with a flat and can’t replace the tyre yourself.
Buying new tyres
If you’re in the market for some new tyres, then safety and longevity are the first things to consider.
It’s best to choose tyres which have strong grip and will last the test of time. There are many manufacturers to choose from, but we recommend that you stick with the traditional, reputable brands, which usually offer a range of tyres for most budgets.
Don’t risk investing your money in used tyres, which are more likely to be old and perished, and subsequently more prone to cracking and blowing out quicker than a new tyre.
By going down this route, you’ll need to bear in mind that you have to factor in additional costs to recycle your old tyres, and get the replacements fitted and balanced. It may actually end up costing you more than you first thought and the price difference may be negligible.
Remember, used tyres will have less tread depth, which affects their performance. Tyres need good tread depth to be able to perform, especially in wetter conditions. Tyres with no tread can’t dissipate water on the road, and will create a film of water beneath your tyres. Deeper treads, however, allow more water to be displaced, which provides superior grip on the road.
If only one of your tyres needs to be replaced, make sure to consider your options as tyres can quite often be cheaper to buy in pairs or a full set.
If you want to discuss your options, then get in touch with your nearest tyre supplier. They’ll be able to provide the best advice.
● For more information, you can also visit aa.co.nz/cars/owning-a-car/tyres/