Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Car Care: Selecting and maintaining tyres -- Part 2
[Article copyright Ewe Paik Leong]
Never guess what kind of tyres is right for your car. To assist your dealer to meet your tyre buying needs, supply the following information to him:
(l) The kind of car do you drive. Coupe? Saloon? Sports? What make? What model?
(2) The kind of tyres you are using now. Brand? Model? Size? Type? Just look at the side of your tyres for this information. Remember to check all four tyres and make sure they are the same.
(3) Your likes and dislikes about your current tyres. In what way do they make your car feel and sound?
(4) Your expectations from your new tyres. Comfortable ride? High performance? Achieving both is difficult. A tyre designed mainly for a comfortable ride will not handle as precisely as a high-performance tyre. Likewise, a high-performance tyre has to sacrifice a certain degree of comfort.
(5) Your normal driving conditions. Stop-and-go traffic in the city? Long distance? Red-earth road? Plantation roads? Up and down a hill resort
(6) The weather conditions your current tyres are mostly subjected to.
(7) The appearance you want for your car.
(8) The kind of warranties you want.
(9) Your budget.
Based on the information provided, your dealer can recommend the best tyres for your needs. There are certain precautions, however, that you should heed.
(1) First, don't try to save labour charges by mounting tyres yourself unless you have received proper training and have the proper equipment. If something goes wrong during the mounting procedure, a tyre may explode, causing death or serious injuries.
(2) Always mount a tyre of a certain diametre on a rim of the same diameter. For instance, a 16-inch tyre should be fitted on a l6-inch rim. Never mount a 16-inch tyre on a 16.5-inch rim or a 16.5-inch tyre on a 16-inch rim.
(3) It is always best to have all four tyres of the same size, speed rating and construction (radial or non-radial). If for any reason you are using two radial tyres with two non-radial tyres, put the radials at the rear. Also, a radial and a non-radial should never be used on the same axle except when you are using one as a temporary spare.
Having bought and fitted the new tyres on your car, you should maintain them. Maintaining tyres is quite simple:
(1) Invest in a tyre pressure gauge and check the air pressure of the tyres at least once every month. Don't depend on the air meter at petrol stations as it may be inaccurate due to abuse or exposure to the elements. Keep a lookout for other tell-tale signs of improper pressure though. Do your tyres squeal when you turn a corner? If yes, one or more tyres may be under-inflated. Look at your tyres regularly. Does one of more of them look more bulgy compared to last month? If yes, they may need attention.
(2) Check the tread for pieces of foreign objects wedged in between and remove them. If left there, they may work their way deeper and damage the tyre. A visual once-over check is not enough to detect uneven wear. Be prepared to get your hands dirty by feeling the tread. High and low areas indicate irregular wear.
(3) Each tyre of a car wears out at different rates as each supports a different weight. Therefore, rotate them every 8,000 kilometres to increase their life expectancy. A popular way is to criss-cross tyres from one side to another.
(4) Never overload the car. Be aware that towing a boat, water scooter or trailer indirectly imposes additional load on the vehicle.
(5) Check your alignment of your wheels every I 6,000 kilometres.
(6) Avoid fast starts, stops and turns; avoid potholes and hard objects on the road; and avoid hitting the tyres against the curb. If the latter happens, always inspect the tyre to make sure that it has not suffered any structural damange.