Author: Adam Gosling
Have you ever noticed that tyres and people are surprising similar? Probably not. But just as we understand the benefits of looking after our health, ignoring the ‘health’ of our tyres will inevitably lead to failure.
You see, we humans are like tyres. Blood to us is the same as air to a tyre. If we’re asked to carry a load, we’ll probably manage at walking pace. But if I ask you to start running with that heavy load, you’ll likely perish pretty quickly. A tyre is no different.
Just like maintaining our own health, looking after the humble servant we know as a tyre provides the support modern vehicles need to steer and corner accurately, accelerate and brake appropriately, and to support the loads we carry without question.
A well-maintained tyre will not only aid safe passage for the driver and occupants of the vehicle (not to mention other road users) but will reduce fuel consumption and emissions as well as improving life expectancy of the tyre. It’s an all-round (pun intended) positive outcome: increased safety at a reduced cost.
Getting it ‘just right’
A tyre’s ability to perform the services we ask depends primarily on the appropriate level of inflation. So yes just like our own blood pressure, the most effective way to maintain the health of your tyres is to carefully maintain the inflation pressure. There is a ’Goldilocks zone’ where the pressure is ‘just right’.
Tyres, again like humans, also age differently. I am at the end of my career and while that means I have experience and knowledge to call on, I know I get left behind by the younger generation in some pursuits. Many people take care of their bodies (and minds) and appear younger but may still succumb earlier than those who haven’t looked after themselves as well. Humans are ‘self-repairing’ and can heal our wounds. This is one area where tyres and humans differ. If tyres suffer an injury, like hitting a kerb or a pot hole, that injury remains and could well be the reason behind failure later in life – even a catastrophic failure.
Tyres have a date code moulded on them so your tyre professional can determine when the tyre was manufactured. What they can’t tell, without a very careful inspection, is how the tyre has aged. If it’s been abused by overloading or underinflation (same same no difference), run on rough pot-holed roads or hit kerbs then, just like a human who’s has had a tough time, life expectancy is likely to be shortened.
There is a school of thought that calendar years can be the cut off, but I can demonstrate a much younger tyre can be dangerous. Just as some humans can live longer than others, tyres have a similar experience. We ask our medical experts to examine our health, so you as the car pilot should be seeking the advice of your tyre professional to determine the life expectancy of your tyres. If you don’t like what you hear, seek a second opinion.
Remember, the most effective way to extract the best life and performance from your tyres is to look after them, as you do with your own health. The easiest way to do that is by constantly and consistently maintaining tyres at an appropriate inflation pressure. Make it a habit to check your tyre pressures frequently. With tyre pressure monitoring systems that are fitted to many of our modern vehicles, you don’t even have to leave the driver’s seat to check tyre pressure.
Treat your tyres to the Goldilocks experience when it comes to load and inflation pressures. They’ll return the favour many times over through lower operating costs and, most importantly, helping to keep you, your passengers and other road users safe.