Malaysian drivers, including myself, do not seem to know very much about tyres. We may know a few things such as alignment, balancing and pressures, but is it really enough?

As tyres represent such an important item of a vehicle and our lives may very well depend on them, I feel feel an article o it should be written.

But the problem that arises is, I’m only a driving instructor, not a mechanic, nor a shopkeeper dealing with tyres. Then, what do I do? To write an article on tyres, I therefore have to do researches and read on the subject of tyres itself.

In the process of doing the above, I read an article whereby a writer reiterated one important advice, which I feel should be shared amongst all my readers. He said and I quote, “tyres weaken and bulge”.

This can cause a tyre to blow up. When this happens, you’ll have to send your car into a repair shop. However, the blow out will put you in a hospital! Think about it carefully.

There are many important things which motorists should ideally know about tyres. In this article, I will break it up in sections. Hopefully, in doing so, readers will find it much easier to comprehend what is being written.

1. The significance of markings on the side walls of tyres

Most motorists, including myself, do not know what the small prints which appear on the walls of the tyre itself means. At least until now. Here are some of the abbreviations which you might possibly see on the sidewalls of tyres. Look at it carefully.

P- denotes tyres for passenger cars
LT- are tyres for light trucks
R- indicates radial ply tyres
T- indicates tyres that are for special trailers
235 – are numbers which indicates the width of the tyres in mm (millimeters)

After providing readers with the above information, it is hoped you will better understand some of the denominations which appear on the side walls of tyres from now on.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide you with all information. Information not quoted here, will have to be learnt up by yourself.

2. What are of the warning signs that say you need new tyres?

Generally, a motorist, with some experience, should be able to look for some tell tale signs which will denote to you that you need a set of new tyres for your vehicle. If one is unable to decipher the above, it is suggested that you seek the assistance of a mechanic.

Amongst some of the signs are:-

a. Your tyres look old or worn out. Tyres which are in such poor conditions, if it fails you, will bring about a catastrophe. Furthermore, it will leave you stranded as well.

b. If you are uncertain, always ask the advice of your usual mechanic.
Besides physical examination of your vehicle’s tyres, there exists also 5 things that can warn you that you possibly need new tyres for your vehicle.

The things include:

i. Tread
Ideally a tyre tread shall not fall below 1/16 or 1.6mm. the best way to determine tyre tread is to use a tyre gauge.

ii. Tyre weak indicator bars
Many people are unaware, that there are tyre wear indicator bars on a tyre.

These bars run perpendicular to tread patterns of tyres. Look at it carefully on your tyres. It is certain that you will be able to spot them.

iii. Cracks in the side walls
Sometimes, the side walls of tyres end up in cracks and cuts. These are tell tale signs which can assist you to make a decision as to whether you need new tyres for your vehicle or otherwise.

iv. The presence of bulges and blisters on tyres
The constant usage of tyres will sometimes cause bulges and blisters on tyres. Bulges and blisters can cause blow up and it is dangerous.

v. There is too much vibration in the tyre
Some vibrations in tyres is a normal thing. If you should suddenly feel that your tyres vibrate, then something is wrong somewhere.

Amongst some of the reasons why tyres are said to vibrate are:

a. Tyres are unbalanced or misaligned
b. Your shock absorbers are weak or gone
c. There might be some problem regarding the internal structure of the tyre itself. High density vibration in a tyre will eventually destroy a tyre.

One other important thing which motorists should know about tyres is correct air pressures. Why is it important to use correct air pressures in your vehicle? Correct pressures bring the below benefits:-

1. It extends tyre life

2. Incorrect pressures or under inflation will increase fuel consumption

3. Over inflation will affect grip and braking performance of a vehicle.

4. Over inflation also cause harsh, uncomfortable ride.

Places to look for tables of tyre pressures for cars

If you wish to know more about tyre pressure for your vehicle, look for it in the

a. Glove compartment
b. Consult your vehicle handbook
c. Inside of your filler cap
d. The panel next to the driver’s seat

Are under inflated tyres dangerous?

In some countries like America for example, one can be fined for using under inflated tyres. Under inflated tyres reduce grip on road surfaces. The braking distances for vehicles to stop also increases. It is said, concerning is badly affected by poorly inflated tyres. And finally, fuel consumption increases with under inflation too.

How can tyres help to reduce consumption of a vehicle?

If one wishes to increase the fuel consumption of one’s car, here are a few tips to assist you:-

i. Look after your tyres well and rest assured, you will be rewarded with better consumption.
ii. It is said, fuel consumption increases by at least 10% if tyres are well looked after.
iii. Irregular tread wear increases a car’s rolling resistance, which indirectly increases fuel consumption of a vehicle.
iv. Incorrect balancing increases drag which also contributes largely to a heavier fuel consumption.
v. Under inflated tyres is said to increase fuel consumption by at least 10%.
vi. Using the air con, believe it or not, increases fuel consumption by some 10%.
vii. Driving with windows open increases drag which increases wind resistance, which will eventually lead to poorer fuel consumption.
viii. The way one drives or aggressive driving also contributes to increased fuel consumption.
ix. And finally, if you wish to achieve a better fuel consumption for your vehicle, don’t drive at all or better still, take the LRT or the bus.

And finally, have you ever considered why all tyres are black? This is because they have tyre black in them! Well, that’s all about tyres for the time being.