Get your tyres ready for winter


Make sure your tyres are up to the challenge of winter driving.


Road signDeflate for off-roading: Strange but true - if you're planning to take your 4WD off-road this winter, one of the safest things you can do is let the tyres down. A slightly deflated tyre will flatten out the tread pattern, increasing the area of contact between the tyre and the surface, which can be particularly important on sandy soils, where grip is at a premium. Don't forget to re-inflate the tyres to their correct pressure when you're ready to hit the open road again though.

Space-saver tyres: If you drive a late-model vehicle and you've never checked the spare tyre, you may be in for a shock the next time you have a flat. Many newer vehicles are now equipped with a space-saver spare tyre, which is designed to take up less room in your vehicle. Much narrower than regular tyres, they're also recognisable by their distinctive yellow or coloured rim, which is to remind you that they're designed only for temporary use and not for driving at speeds in excess of 80km or for more than 150km.

Know your tyres: The sidewall of your car's tyres contain important information. The first number represents the tread width (for example, if it's 205, then the tread is 205 millimetres wide) and the second number is the height or profile of the tyre measured as a percentage of the tread width (for example, if it's 65, then that's 65% of 205 millimetres). Meanwhile, the letter R indicates the tyre is a radial ply construction, and the number is the diameter in inches of the wheel the tyre sits on (so, if the tyre is a 205/65R15, then the tyre is sitting on a 15-inch rim). The final markings are industry codes that represent the maximum load capacity and speed at which the tyre can be safely operated.

Is something wrong with your tyres? One of the easiest ways to tell when something is not right with your tyres is from behind the wheel. In most cases, vibration through the steering wheel can mean that a wheel is out of balance. Tiny weights are used to counterbalance the heaviest part of the tyre and wheel assembly and if that weight becomes loose, the wheel will wobble, increasing tyre wear and potentially making driving unsafe. If your car feels as though it's pulling to the left or right - even though you're steering in a straight line - that could suggest a problem with wheel alignment, which can happen due to general road use or incidents such as hitting a kerb. Bad wheel alignment can dramatically increase the wear on the tyres, but it can be corrected by adjusting a vehicle's suspension and steering components to ensure the wheels are perfectly aligned to deliver the least wear on the tyres. Wheel alignment should be checked each time the tyres are rotated or replaced.

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