You can make a pretty good argument that tyres are the most important part
of a car. Of course, the engine is essential to actually drive the car
and your brakes are the most important safety feature. But
your tyres are the only part of the car that actually touches the road. Without them,
there’s really no car at all and if they’re in bad shape they
will negatively affect the performance of every other system in your vehicle.
Brakes, handling and steering are just some things that are affected by bald tyres or misaligned wheels. Fuel efficiency will also be affected and tyres that are in poor condition are also more likely to fail at high speeds.
So, it is very important not only to look after your tyres but to know when they need to be replaced or at least assessed by a professional. Here are 10 warning signs that your tyres need attention or replacement from AME Automotive’s expert team of mechanics in Canning Vale, Perth.
1. Tread Carefully with Worn Tread
If someone offered you a free pair of gorgeous leather shoes with comfortable inner soles but with no grip at all, you’d probably turn them down. Because even though all those other things are great, the shoes aren’t much good if you’ll slip over all the time.
Tyre tread is much the same. It doesn’t matter if your tyres are top of the line and your car is luxurious. If the tyres don’t have enough tread, the car won’t be safe, especially in wet conditions. Tyre tread creates space for water to be funnelled away, thereby increasing the wheels’ effective contact patch. This increases traction, reduces stopping time and lowers the risk of aquaplaning. In fact, in Australia, there is a legal requirement that your tyres have at least 1.5mm of tread and penalties apply if your fail to comply.
Why ‘Just Enough’ Is Not Enough
In fact, you should consider new tyres before that 1.5mm minimum, because by the time your tyres are that worn your stopping distance in wet conditions will have increased by almost 20 metres. A study measuring the Volkswagen Golf V’s stopping time travelling at 80 km/h in wet conditions with premium Bridgestone tyres found that:
- With 8mm of tread, it took 53.6 metres to stop
- At 5mm that increased to 55.2 metres
- With 3mm tread, 59.6 metres were required to stop
- Once the tread got to 1.6mm stopping distance shot up to 70 metres
Check Your Tread Regularly
Most modern tyres feature built-in tread wear indicators that allow you to do a quick visual inspection of your tyres. There will be tread wear indicator bars running perpendicular to the direction of the tread. These are hidden at first but start to appear as the tread gets low. If you can see one or more of these starting to appear, use a tread depth indicator to double check. If the tread is 1.5mm or lower you need new tyres. If you drive regularly in wet conditions, it’s a good idea to make the cut-off point 2 or 3mm instead.
2. Cracked Sidewalls
Tyre tread is a major concern, but cracks in the sidewall of your tyres are no less of a problem. Over time, exposure to UV breaks down the oils and chemicals that keep the rubber in your tyre strong and flexible, leading to a tyre that is brittle like an old rubber band.
One of the first signs that this is happening will be the appearance of cracks in the tyres’ sidewalls – everything from hairline cracks to distinct valleys in the rubber. These cracks can lead to leaks but they can also result in sidewall collapse or the tread separating from the rest of the wheel. Both of these outcomes are catastrophically bad news for you as a driver, especially if they happen on the highway, in heavy traffic or both.
3. Bulges and Blisters Are Bad Business
Another bad sign for your tyres is blister-like bulges appearing on the surface. These are usually caused in one of two ways:
- Uneven weakening of a tyre’s outer surface can lead to bulges because the pressure inside the tyre pushes out the weakened area. This is similar to an aneurysm in a blood vessel – an aneurysm can blow out an artery and one of these could blow out your tyre.
- The rigid internal frame of the tyre may have been damaged, allowing air pressure to reach the more flexible outer layers of the tyre. This damage is usually caused by driving mistakes such as hitting potholes, mounting kerbs, or driving with low tyre pressure.
These bulges will significantly reduce a tyre’s structural integrity and each additional bulge only makes the problem worse. Even if your tyres look fine otherwise and have plenty of tread, you need to get them replaced. Continuing to drive on bulging tyres is a recipe for a gradual flat tyre at best and sudden tyre failure at worst.
4. Bad Vibrations
It’s inevitable that you will feel some vibration when you drive, simply due to the engine doing its work and the friction of your car against the road. But if your notice more than usual, you probably have a problem. Excessive vibration usually comes down to one of four causes:
- One or more of the wheels could be bent or damaged, causing them to spin in an imperfect circle.
- The tyre may have suffered internal damage leading to irregular spinning, despite the wheel being okay.
- Poor wheel alignment will lead to vibrations and cause tyres to wear unevenly.
- A variety of suspension problems can also lead to a lot of vibration.
If your tyres or wheels are damaged, you will most likely need to get them replaced. If the cause is alignment issues or problems with suspension, those problems will need to be fixed.
5. What’s That Noise?
You can gather valuable clues about the health of your vehicle’s engine, brakes, tyres and more from the sounds your car makes. When tyres produce strange noises such as whining, squeaking, or thumping, think of it like a pet trying to tell you they’re ill. It’s not easy to know exactly what the problem is, so you’ll need to get a professional involved, but strange sounds from your tyres always indicate a problem.
It could be that the tyre or wheel has become damaged from a bump or simply through the stresses of daily driving. The wheels could also be out of alignment, leading to strange sounds when braking or cornering. Squeaking or thumping sounds could also be early indications that the tread on your tyre has worn down too low.
6. You Can’t Teach an Old Tyre New Tricks
Tyres have an age limit after which they should be retired. The maximum service life for car tyres is generally agreed to be around a decade, but that’s an absolute maximum – you generally don’t want to leave tyres on your car for 10 years.
Most manufacturers and suppliers only provide a maximum of five years’ warranty. After that time, the rubber’s natural deterioration – caused by UV radiation, friction, heat, and oxidisation – make problems increasingly more likely. As such, it’s usually recommended that you replace your tyres every five to six years, even if they look okay in other ways. If you insist on keeping older tyres, make 10 years your absolute cut-off point; after that, you’re asking for trouble.
Find Your Tyre’s Birthday
It’s actually quite easy to work out the age of your tyres. On the sidewall of every tyre is a 10-11 digit Tyre Identification Number (TIN). This tells you a lot of information about the tyre including its week and year of manufacture. For tyres from the 1990s, the last three digits give this information, and for post-2000 tyres, it’s the last four digits. So, for example:
- If the last three digits of your tyre are ‘278’ (with a triangular indentation next to them), then your tyre was manufactured in the 27th week of the year 1998. That means it celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2008. Replace it as soon as possible.
- If the last four digits read 1315, then your tyre was manufactured in week 13 of 2015. They won’t need to be replaced until 2020-21 and will be officially past their used by date in 2025.
- If your tyres have a three digit code at the end of their NIT, but there is no triangular indentation next to it, then your tyres come from the 1980s. Frankly, it’s a miracle they haven’t exploded or split in half – replace them today.
What about the Spare?
While spare tyres are under less stress and strain in your boot, the rubber will still deteriorate. Spare tyres that are older than six years should only be used in an emergency and spares ten years or older should be replaced.
7. Uneven Tread Wear
If the tread on your tyres is wearing down unevenly, this could mean a lot of things. If the wear is severe enough you’ll need new tyres even if the rest of the tread is fine – all it takes is one or two bald patches to cause problems in wet weather or during a sudden stop. There are a few reasons why your tyres might be wearing unevenly:
- If the tyres are more worn on the outer or inner edge, the problem is probably misaligned wheels. If your wheels are angled in at the front, there will be more wear on the outer edges; if they point outwards there will be more wear on the inner edge.
- Tyres that show a lot of wear straight down the centre are a sign that you’ve been overinflating your tyre.
- If your tyres are worn at the edges, but not in the centre, you have been under inflating them. Get out of this habit right now – underinflated tyres don’t absorb bumps properly. They also result in more friction with the road, increasing the heat in your tyres and the chance of a blowout.
8. Tyre Landscapes
If your tyres have a ‘hill and valley’ pattern of wear – known as ‘cupping’ – they may need to be replaced. Your suspension will also need a check-up. Worn or damaged suspension can cause tyres to bounce as you’re driving, coming down harder on some parts of the tyre than others.
9. Feathering and Heel Toe-ing
Sometimes an incorrect toe setting on your car’s wheels can cause your tyres to spin in odd ways, creating an effect called ‘feathering’. This can also be caused by suspension problems.
Feathering is when your tread blocks end up shaped like ramps running sideways across your tyres. You’ll need to organise an alignment, suspension and have your tyres checked. If the wear is significant enough, you will also need new tyres.
Heel Toe Tyres
Heel-toe wear in tyres looks very similar to feathering, but it runs front to back along the tyres, not across them. If you find this wear profile on your tyres, get your car checked out – it could be the result of insufficient wheel rotations, misaligned wheels, damaged or worn suspension bushings, ball joints, or wheel bearings.
10. Dry Rot Is as Bad as It Sounds
Pervasive dry rot is a sign your tyres are no longer useable. If you’ve been checking for sidewall cracks and bulges, your tyres shouldn’t ever get to this stage, but if you’ve been negligent in examining your tyres, check them right now. If you find the following symptoms, drive very carefully and slowly to your nearest tyre service centre and get your tyres replaced.
- Do you have pervasive cracks in both the sidewall and the tread?
- Has the rubber turned from black to a dull grey?
- Can you see fabric or metal through the cracks in your tyres?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you probably have dry rot. Your tyres are in a state of advanced decay. The rubber has lost most of its structural integrity and your tyres have become brittle and weak. Your tyres are now likely to fall apart, burst, or tear away from their steel belt any day now.
Contact AME Automotive mechanics in Canning Vale, Perth to get your car tyres checked if you’re experiencing any of these problems or before a long drive.
As such an essential part of our everyday lives, it’s easy to forget that cars are some of the most useful machines we own. Unlike our phones or our tablets, a car gets us home, to work, to our loved ones and to our holiday destination. They are generally reliable and for many people, they’re simply irreplaceable.
Because they are machines, cars can malfunction, break down and experience other issues. This can leave us stranded and needing to pay for expensive repairs (or even a new car). To avoid these possibilities, always have your car serviced regularly.
You’ll Save Money in the Long Run
While a car service may seem like an expense – consider the larger cost of a complete breakdown. You may find something major like your engine needs replacing, causing you to weigh up the costs of replacing your car altogether. Having a regular service schedule will ensure that your local automotive mechanic will be able to keep tabs on how your car is running, and hopefully, prevent a costly, inconvenient and annoying breakdown!
Also, aside from preventing breakdowns, a regular service schedule ensures that your car is well maintained. A well-maintained car is more likely to be fuel efficient – and the more fuel efficient your car is the less money you are going to be spending at the service station in the long run.
A car that is in disrepair is a major risk to its owner and everyone else on the road. Leaky exhaust systems can be fatal if left unattended, as can a faulty engine. Bald or otherwise worn tyres can cause blowouts while driving, which could be especially dangerous at high speeds.
Having your car checked out every 6 months or so is a small price to pay to avoid an otherwise dangerous incident.
Your Car Will Last Longer
Car shopping can be exciting, let’s admit it. But you know what is not as exciting? Shopping for a car when you didn’t intend to! Getting your car serviced on a regular basis will make sure that it will drive you from A to B for many more years than if you don’t service it regularly. So if you want to avoid those car salesmen, visit your mechanic for regular car servicing.
It Will Remain Road Worthy
The last thing anyone wants is a fine for having an un-roadworthy vehicle – especially if it’s for something like a cracked windshield wiper or a busted tail-light! Having your car serviced will make sure it is legally up to scratch, and this will contribute to other positive benefits such as safety and efficiency.
At the end of the day, the benefits of regular car servicing far outweigh the risks. To experience all these benefits for your car, head to your local auto mechanic and organise a service today.
One of the worst things that can happen to any driver is for his or her car to break down, or threaten to break down through some unexpected signal or noise, while on the road. An article by Brian Turner in Driving.ca advises drivers to first get away from traffic if this is possible. If not, Turner says it is best to stay in the car if the traffic is light, or get out and stay along the side of the car if the traffic is heavy, with all the warning lights turned on.
The next thing you may try doing to avoid expensive towing services is to troubleshoot and try to get your car going again, at least until you reach the nearest garage and have Perth mechanics do proper repairs. Some of the most common roadside problems drivers encounter include failed batteries, flat tires, and electrical failures.
You may try charging a sputtering battery using a boost; if you don’t have one of your own, perhaps you can borrow from a nearby motorist. This is usually sufficient to breathe a short life into your battery until you can get it to a mechanic for a recharge or a replacement.
Every driver knows what to do with a flat tire, of course, and it will help to always have a spare and a jack handy. Electrical problems often come as a failure of the alternator or starter, and Turner has this to say about them:
The first symptom of failure is usually the battery warning symbol lighting up on the instrument panel. When this happens, if your vehicle is still running, turn off all unnecessary electrical accessories and head to the nearest repair centre, highway exit, or road-side stop.
Electrical problems, unfortunately, are harder to fix than other types of vehicle trouble, and would need to be serviced by reliable Perth auto electricians. This is especially true with the latest car models which have more complex electrical systems than older models. The most capable auto electricians may be found only in reputable auto service shops like AME Automotive.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to looking after your car. You need to check and maintain the levels of your oil, water and coolant and have it serviced regularly to ensure that it runs smoothly and doesn’t break down at an unexpected and unfortunate time. One aspect of your car that is very important is the tyres. Caring for them is a good way to avoid costly tyre repair services. Let’s check out a few basic tyre car tips.
When Should You Check Them?
You should be checking your tyres air pressure at least once a month – although once a fortnight is probably better. You don’t need to be an expert mechanic to do this. Just drive down to your local service station and make use of their free air machine.
Another tip is to check your tyres before a long road trip. There would be nothing worse than getting all packed and ready for a holiday away and having to stop and change a tyre halfway there.
How Long Will Your Tyres Last?
There’s no hard and fast rule about this. It is dependent upon a few different factors: the design of the tyre (Kumho is one good brand), exactly how you drive, the climate you’re in, the condition of the road and how well you care for them. Although, as a rule of thumb you should be replacing your tyres every 5 years.
Tips for Tyre Care
Get your tyres inspected by a professional tyre mechanic at least once a year. If you haven’t had them changed in 10 years of more – get them replaced anyway. Even if they don’t seem bald or worn, it is better to be safe than sorry.
The best way to care for your tyres is to check and regulate their air pressure – the optimum amount is different for each type of tyre and car. It is worth reading your vehicle’s manual or asking a tyre specialist in Perth about this. Keep an eye on the tread wear and tear, and try to rotate your tyres as well. This will make sure that they last a good long time. Always follow your vehicle manufacturer’s suggestions and advice.
The Risks of Underinflated Tyres
Under-inflation poses a significant risk of tyre failure. Low pressure means that too much of the tyre touches the road – which causes a great deal of friction. This friction leads to overheating, which causes premature wear, tread separation and potential blowouts.
So, When Should You Deflate You Tyres?
Deflating your tyres may be appropriate for certain off-road activities, such as driving through a sandy terrain. Reducing your tyre pressure by around 25% can increase your surface area, helping them to get a better grip.
Before you make any decisions about this, it’s best to talk to an expert. The type of tyres and the vehicle that you use will also play a role in safe off-road driving.
If you have questions about tyre care, or would like a quote on an inspection or tyre replacement, please get in touch with AME Automotive. We’re always happy to help.
Driving in the wet weather can be risky business and one risk during the wet weather is aquaplaning. This is when wheels make contact with a body of water and lose traction, causing the vehicle to spin out of control and potentially cause an accident.
Today we’re going to look at several things that you can do to stay safe on the road while it’s wet.
Check Your Tyres
One of the most dangerous times to have worn, bald, or otherwise unsafe tyres is during wet weather. Your tyres provide your car with much-needed traction – and a wet and slippery road can be really difficult to grip. It’s worth ensuring that your tyres are in good condition and have the correct pressure – you can measure this yourself. All tyres have a little notch that shows the level of wear and tear. You can also check the pressure at your local service station. Alternatively, you could visit your local mechanic and they can help you out.
Get a Wheel Alignment
Correctly aligned wheels will ensure that your car is in the best shape it can be for wet weather driving. Having a professional wheel alignment performed is a good idea to help you stay safe. It can help to prevent aquaplaning and other weather-related road accidents.
Take it Easy
One very simple thing that you can do on wet and slippery roads is to take it easy. Try driving 10 km/h or so under the limit – especially if the rain is very heavy or visibility is limited by rain, fog or other weather.
Check Your Wipers
Worn or cracked windscreen wipers don’t work as well as they would if they were brand new. If they’re not working correctly you may struggle to see during a downpour. Make sure they’re in good shape before driving in the wet.
In Case of Aquaplaning
If you do aquaplane on a wet road, make sure to stay calm. If you panic you are more likely to lose control of your vehicle. If cruise control is on, switch it off by using the switch, not the brakes! However, you should not use cruise control in the wet anyway.
During an aquaplane, you have no control over your car. Don’t slam the brakes, as you will likely skid and lose control. Let your vehicle find its own path while gently easing your foot off the acceleration pedal. Then gently push the steering wheel where you want to go, and if you need to brake do so very gently in a light, delicate pumping fashion. If your car is equipped with ABS, you can brake normally.
Please stay safe on the road, and have your car serviced regularly. This not only reduces everyday risks, it could help you in harsh weather conditions, and prevent incidents such as aquaplaning.
For many, summertime and the Christmas period gives us the chance to catch up with family and friends. However, for most of us this also means long, hot road trips! As much as you might enjoy driving, even the most patient driver can be tested by Australia’s great expanses. On this page our expert mechanics in Canning Vale would like to share with you our top five tips for coping with long haul drives.
If you are setting out on the freeways and highways during the holiday season, make sure that you and your family stay cool, comfortable and arrive at your destination safely.
Entertain the Little Ones
Long car journeys can be trying for children. To avoid temper tantrums and bad behaviour brought on by boredom and long periods of inactivity; make sure you pack enough snacks, games, books and electronic devices to keep the little ones happy. Even trusty old paper and pencils can be a huge help. Simple games like hangman, Pictionary and variations on I Spy work like a charm and will ensure that your little angels won’t turn into little devils during a long drive!
Don’t Be in a Hurry
Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination and plan for fuel and rest stops along the way. Don’t give in to the temptation to put your foot down in the hopes that you’ll get there sooner! Not only will you be risking a fine and run the danger of causing an accident, you will also tire yourself out faster as coping with increased speeds requires more energy from the driver. Take it easy, take your time and you’ll find that slow and steady is a better way to run the race.
Know Where You Are Going
Obviously, when embarking upon a road trip you need to know where you are going. However, hundreds of people get lost, break down and are stranded every year. Our automotive experts recommend taking well-known routes instead of lesser-known options and to not rely solely on electronic devices such as phones, tablets or laptops. Make sure your vehicle has up to date and comprehensive maps of where you are going, where you’ve come from and how you’re getting back.
Learn the Art of Packing
It cannot be overstated how important it is to be certain that your luggage and belongings are kept secure during long trips. The last thing a tired driver needs is loose luggage flying about during tight turns or unexpected stops. Badly packed bags can obstruct your view and even cause an accident. Pack your luggage in tightly and avoid having to deal with UFOs!
Expect the Unexpected
As any good Scout would say: Be prepared. Have your car serviced prior to setting off, make certain the air conditioning works and that your wheels are aligned properly. Pack an emergency kit with first aid gear, a jack, tools, water and food.
For more great advice, speak to AME Automotive, Perth’s most trusted automotive mechanics. Ask about our fantastic deals on Kuhmo tyres!