Everything you need to know about summer tyre safety
Explained: the importance of checking tread, wear and air pressure as temperatures rise
As temperatures continue to rise, we need to focus on the challenges associated with hot weather. How to keep cool, what to wear and how to stay hydrated are all topical subjects, but something that is often overlooked is road safety, including vehicle maintenance and, at the top of our list, tyres.
While they are often forgotten about, tyres are arguably the most important component on your vehicle and when it comes to safe summer driving, your first concern should be the part of your car that touches the road, even if it’s a patch of rubber smaller than the size of your hand.
When we visited South Africa with Michelin, we gained an insight into how many different types of tyres are on offer. They range from the high-performance Pilot Sport Cup 2 R – created for the racing circuit and homologated for the road – to the long-life Michelin Pilot Sport 4 SUV, which are designed specifically for the luxury sports SUV market.
Admittedly, having the right tyres and maintaining them properly is crucial at any time of the year, but it’s particularly important during the summer months as the hot roads can interfere with your rubber. The scorching UAE weather exacerbates heat build-up and weakens the rubber compound of your wheels, and will potentially cause them to explode. In other words, when the temperature soars, you’re more likely to have a blowout.
As many drivers know already, the tyre is so much more than an air-filled ring of rubber. It’s a complex piece of engineering that comes in many shapes and forms, with a range of them designed to tackle myriad motoring challenges. Tyres can have an impact on braking, acceleration, traction, handling, steering and comfort. Even the most powerful supercar won’t grip to the road properly if it is not fitted with the right tyres.
So, with the country continuing to feel the heat, we’ve put together our guide to making sure your tyres stay safe this summer...
Make sure your tyres are properly inflated
Overinflation can be as dangerous as underinflation. When the air pressure is too low, the tyre creates more heat because of excess flexing. This not only affects the handling and fuel economy of your vehicle, it also results in longer stopping distances. If tyre pressure is too high, then less of the rubber touches the ground. As a consequence, your car will bounce around on the road, with traction suffering and the chance of a blowout increasing. Tyres can lose one psi (pound per square inch) every month, so it’s important to check the pressure in each of them every few weeks and before long journeys. Don’t forget the spare, too.
Check tyres when they’re cool for the most accurate readings, because air pressure in a tyre goes up in warm weather and after use. You should
also make sure you follow the recommended tyre pressure in psi for your car. This information is found on the vehicle placard, typically found inside the car door, and in the owner’s manual.
Complete a visual check every month
Start by having a look at the tread for uneven areas, excessive wear and foreign objects, and be sure to check the tyre walls for any bulges, gouges, cuts or deep abrasions. Any wear on the surface can indicate a problem with the car, which has nothing to do with the tyre. For example, you could have a suspension problem – if caught early enough, you may stop an accident caused by a component failure. It could also be something as simple as the balance and alignment on your wheels, which can be fixed easily. Remember, worn tyres are more likely to be damaged, so keeping on top of wear and tear is important.
Stick to the speed limit and don’t overload your car
Lower speeds put less pressure on the tyres and therefore reduce damage, while speeding for prolonged periods on hot roads will increase the temperature and friction.
The slower you go the less friction there will be. Less friction means less heat. Less heat means less chance of a blowout at high speed.
Don’t overload your vehicle, either. Too much weight puts extra pressure on the tyres and creates more friction, causing them to expand. This is especially true when the road temperatures are high. It’s also wise to remember that overloading your car may void your insurance if you’re involved in an accident. The permitted load can be found on the tyre wall and in the owners’ manual.
This article was first published on June 1, 2019.
Updated: July 4, 2019 12:09 PM