Bridgestone South Africa

Check more than just pressures

Apr 17, 2015

Bridgestone has advised motorists to ensure that all tyre and wheel safety items are checked regularly when adjusting the tyre pressures.

"It's important to check tyre pressures at least once every two weeks," said Bridgestone's General Manager for Field Engineering and Technical Services, Hiroshi Nakanishi. "But tyre checks shouldn't stop there. We often see cases where a tyre is worn beyond legal limits, even though it's correctly inflated. The problem was that the vehicle owner wasn't checking the tyre itself, just the pressure," he commented.

Once you have checked the tyre pressures while they are cold - and corrected them if needed - the next step is to inspect the tyre for damage. If a cut in the tyre is longer than the law allows, the tyre may be unsafe as well as illegal. Inspect the sidewall of the tyre for bruises or bulges which are a sure sign of tyre damage and also render a tyre illegal. "It's important to check tyres for bruises or bulges if you have driven through a pothole or made contact with a pavement," Nakanishi commented. "They are a sign that the tyre has sustained internal damage and may fail suddenly."

On tyres which are equipped with Tread Wear Indicators, the tyre becomes illegal once it has worn level with the indicator bars in the tread grooves. In real-world use, however, a tyre loses much of its ability to disperse water on wet roads once it wears below about 3mm of tread remaining. Ensure you keep tabs on how much tread is left.

Also check that the tyre is wearing evenly. Uneven wear is often a sign that the wheel alignment needs correcting. Poor wheel alignment can affect the driving and handling characteristics of the vehicle, as well as causing rapid tyre wear. "We recommend you have your alignment checked every 10 000km or so," said Nakanishi. "Also have it checked if you've had an encounter with a road obstacle or find the vehicle pulls to one side."

The effects of other worn parts can also be noticed on the tyre. "For instance, a worn shock absorber can't keep the wheel properly in contact with the road surface," Nakanishi explained. "This shows up as a 'cupping' wear pattern. If you see this kind of wear, or any other wear pattern which seems unusual, have the vehicle inspected to see whether there is a mechanical defect present."

At every tyre pressure check, ensure that the valve cap is securely tightened, and replace missing valve caps to prevent dust entering the valve and causing a slow puncture. Also check the wheel for grease or other fluids which may indicate a problem with the wheel bearing or braking system.

"A thorough inspection of a tyre and wheel after checking its pressure should take no longer then 10 to 15 seconds," Nakanishi said. "This is a small price to pay for ensuring your tyres give you maximum economy, safety and tread life," he concluded.

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Bridgestone South Africa

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