Tyres in poor condition are like parachutes with holes. Don’t use them! They’re a car’s connection to the road, a connection that amounts to a single palm print per tyre. Braking, accelerating, grip, cornering – all of these things can only be done safely with properly maintained tyres.
Tyre pressure is a huge factor when it comes to the performance of your car. It’s something we too often push to the back of our minds – something that a mechanic will check at the next service – but, in reality, it’s something we as car owners should familiarise ourselves with and check once a month. Here’s five reasons why.
1. Safety first
If a tyre is overinflated, its footprint (the amount of rubber in contact with the road) is reduced. The smaller the footprint, the lesser the grip, and your ability to control the car is greatly reduced, particularly when it comes to breaking. Overinflated tyres are particularly dangerous in the wet.
An underinflated tyre can lead to a similar reduction in control, specifically to do with cornering. Tyres inflated to the correct pressure allow for more precise handling.
2. Fuel economy
If a tyre is underinflated, its footprint is greater. Because it has more contact with the road, there is more friction, which means the engine has to work harder to spin it. An engine working harder consumes more fuel. Ever had to ride a bike with a flat? Not fun.
3. Tyre longevity
If a tyre is over or underinflated, its lifespan is greatly reduced. In the case of the former, the tyre becomes stiff and rigid and suffers more damage when driven over potholes or uneven surfaces.
In the case of the latter, the simple fact that more rubber is in contact with the road leads to faster wear. Also, underinflated tyres generally have greater wear on the outer edges, or shoulders, and need to be replaced with greater frequency.
4. The environment
Great strides are being taken when it comes to recycling tyres, particularly in the area of road surfacing. But the number of old tyres that make it this far is small. Of the approximately 50 million vehicle tyres that reach end-of-life across Australia annually, 16% are recycled. The fate of the remaining 84% is landfill, illegal stockpiling, the bottom of the ocean or quirky patio furniture. The longer your tyres last (in other words, the fewer tyres you go through in your driving life), the better off the environment is.
As indicated above, incorrect tyre pressure leads to higher fuel consumption, and the environment isn’t a huge fan of petroleum products. Extracting them from the earth is energy-intensive, as is shipping them around the globe. Plus, there’s the occasional oil spill. For those electric car drivers sitting back with a smug smile, think again. This isn’t Europe, where the electricity used to power electric cars is generated from renewables or nuclear energy. This is Australia, so your electric car is actually running almost primarily on brown coal. Dirty stuff. The environment isn’t a fan of that either.
5. Tyre inspection
Checking your tyre pressure means you have to crouch down and connect the hose fitting to the valve stem. While your down there, with your face close to the rubber, it’s a great opportunity to give the tyre a good squiz.
Look for wear or damage to the tread or sidewall. Look for small bulges which are the result of impact damage and indicate weakened rubber, and a higher likelihood of a blowout. Also, run your finger along the grooves to look for the treadwear indicator bar, and make sure it’s still sitting snugly beneath the tread of the tyre.
How do you know what the correct type pressure is? Good question. Usually, the recommended pressures for your vehicle’s tyres will be recorded on the driver’s door jamb. The pressure will sometimes differ between the front and rear tyres, so be mindful of that. Otherwise, check the car’s manual, which should always be kept in the glovebox.
Correct tyre pressure isn’t something to be trifled with, so if you’d prefer to have a professional take a look, don’t hesitate to come by anytime at Eastern Tyre Centre.
Nitrogen Can Help
If you’re the type who doesn’t have the time to check tyre pressures often, or not sure how to operate a tyre pressure gauge at the service centre, then you may want to consider inflating your tyres with nitrogen instead of normal air.
The reason is because normal air or rather oxygen molecules are smaller than the nitrogen molecules and so the pressure loss with nitrogen, which has bigger molecules, is much less than normal air. This means that the pressures in the tyres will remain constant over a longer period and so you would not need to top up the pressures as often.
Eastern Tyre Centre can fill your tyres with nitrogen. It take just 20 minutes and the cost is $10 – $15 per tyre.
Hi my name is Joe and I own Eastern Tyre Centre and BM Tech.
Eastern Tyres is now one year old and I’ve certainly learned a lot about tyres.
Unfortunately, one thing I’ve learnt is how many tyres prematurely wear out because of under-inflation!!
That’s right, tyres which are low in pressure wear out the edges. And this can reduce the life of the tyre by up to 50%. Now I do have a solution, so please hear me out!
Having the correct air pressure in your tyres not only extends the life of the tyre, but also makes the car safer on the road, especially in the wet.
Yes, I understand it’s hard to remember to check the pressures and we are so time-poor these days, I mean who’s got the time, to find the time, to check the tyres.
And who ever checks the spare wheel?
Tyre pressures should be checked every 2 to 4 weeks, because air, or rather oxygen, will naturally escape over period of time. The reason for this is because normal oxygen molecules are very small and can easily pass through the rubber compound of the tyre.
Now… here is the solution! Have you heard of filling your tyres with Nitrogen…. instead of normal air? I’m sure many of you have, and the reason we do this is because Nitrogen molecules are bigger and will take 4 times longer to escape the tyre. This means the pressure will remain constant over a much longer period of time.
Think about it, if you’re a professional, or a busy house-wife of just someone who has no spare time, or like me who forgets easily, then you should consider filling your tyres with Nitrogen instead of normal air.
Because you would only then need to check the tyre pressures about once every 4 to 6 months! Think about it. This not only saves you time but will extend the life of the tyre significantly, and save you money.
Please allow me demonstrate what we do.
See this machine. We use this to connect each tyre at the same time, including the neglected spare wheel.
We press a couple of buttons, flick the lever and the nitrogen cycle begins. And that’s it. How simple is that? and it only takes 20 minutes?
The cost per tyre is around $15.00 ea. When you consider the average price of a new tyre is around $200 with the potential to lose half the tyre due to low air pressures.
I think it’s great value and a great investment, not only in money savings but your time savings as well.
I hope I’ve explained to you why we in the tyre industry use Nitrogen in tyres.
At least you now you know there are some convenient and clever ways to keep your tyres in peak condition.
Please call or visit us anytime at Eastern Tyre Centre or BM Tech for more information.
And thanks for watching.