Tyre tips to save your life

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 KEEP SAFE:Tyres are one of the most important aspects on a car. They should be checked regularly to keep safe on the road. Image: Shutterstock ~ Shutterstock
Unsafe tyres are one of the many reasons for road fatalities every year. Check out some top tyre tips to keep safe.

The South African Tyre Manufacturers' Conference is urging all road users to give priority to the safety of their vehicle's tyres before they set off on their holidays and long-distance travel.

The high death toll on South African roads is nothing new. During 2012's festive season more than 1400 people were killed.


On average 14 000 lives are lost each year in road collisions and many more people are injured in the process. Soime sources put the number as high as 20 000. Sadly, many of these incidents can be attributed to unsafe tyres and could easily have been avoided.

SATMC is a representative body consisting of the four local tyre manufactures - Apollo (formerly Dunlop), Bridgestone, Continental and Goodyear.

Locally tyres are also specifically designed for South African road and climate conditions which make them safer and more durable.

SATMC CEO Etienne Human warns against cheap and unknown tyre brands on the market: "These tyres do not hold to the same performance levels, which greatly compromises safety, have a shorter life and poor road performance. Remember, they're cheap for a reason".

Fitting second-hand tyres may cost you less in the short-term but could end up costing you much more in the long- un. Many of them should have been scrapped due to damage or excessive tread wear.

“The importance of checking your tyres is not reiterated enough. Skidding, hydroplaning, jack-knifing and blow-outs can easily occur with unroadworthy tyres. Not to mention that an unwelcome traffic fine could put a dent in your holiday budget!

“A runner doesn't hit the road with cheap, poorly fitted and badly designed running shoes, right? A solid pair of shoes protects his feet, improves his performance and speeds up his time.

“In the same way, your car's 'shoes' perform significantly better in terms of gripping the road, cornering, distributing heat evenly, reducing rolling and improving braking when in excellent condition; resulting in a more comfortable ride, increased overall safety and reduced fuel costs.

“Remember, if your car - including the tyres - is in any way deemed unroadworthy, your insurance company is unlikely to pay out a claim in the event of an incident.


1 Check your tyres regularly (including the spare) - ideally once a month. Check their pressures, look for damage, sufficient tread and whether there are any nails or sharp objects embedded that could cause a puncture.

2 Check wheel balancing and alignment at regular intervals. Correctly balanced tyres reduce vibration and make for a smoother ride. They also increase tread and shock absorber life.

3 Rotate your tyres every 10 000km. They will wear out more evenly.

4 Ideally, tyres should be replaced in fours. If it’s not possible, at least in pairs, try to replace it with the same type, load index and speed rating as the originals.

5 Make sure your tread is more than 1mm* over the entire tread surface and get them replaced as soon as it drops below that. This will prevent skidding on wet roads. A 3mm tread depth has about 20% more stopping ability on a wet road than 1mm. Old tyres also become hard providing less road grip.

6 Tyres should be correctly inflated. Under-inflated tyres will increase fuel consumption and tyre wear on the tread shoulders, while over-inflated tyres will reduce grip especially in wet weather and run down the tread over the middle of the tread surface.

7 Have a puncture assessed as soon as possible. If the puncture is in the tread and less than 6mm in diameter, it can be sealed and you can continue to drive with the same tyre. If it is bigger than 6mm or occurs on the sidewall, the tyre will have to be replaced. A spaghetti plug repair is a temporary fix - to buy you some time to get to a tyre workshop and have the tyre replaced or repaired with a proper mushroom type plug.

8 All tyres should be replaced after seven years, regardless of use, damage or tread. Tyres are exposed to weather conditions and aging, which degrades the integrity of the tyre, regardless of how far you have travelled or how often the tyres are used. Take special care to replace caravan and trailer tyres after seven years, even if you only use them once or twice a year.

*1 mm - that's the legal limit but Wheels24 recommends at least double that tread depth for you tyres' to  displace water anywhere near efficiently - which is the only reason for having tread grooves in the first place.