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A Healthy Set of Tyres is no Accident

Australian drivers have performed poorly in a recent audit of their basic tyre safety & maintenance abilities.

An independent Newspoll conducted recently asked Australians about their knowledge of recommended tyre tread, inflation and safety inspection intervals, with the results suggesting drivers are apathetic about the condition of their tyres.

Among the research findings:

  • Almost nine in 10 Australian drivers (89 per cent) cannot say what a tyre's minimum roadworthiness tread depth is
  • Only one in 10 Australian drivers (11 per cent) know a tyre's minimum roadworthiness tread depth is 1.6mm
  • Four in 10 Australian drivers (40 per cent) check their tyre pressure, at best, once every two to three months
  • Almost half of Australian drivers (47 per cent) cannot say or think the suggested interval for checking their tyre pressure is monthly or less often

The survey results were even more worrying when compared with the results of a random assessment of tyres on customers' cars at Mitre 10 stores. Qualified tyre fitters checked the tyres for inflation and tread depth, with an alarming number found to be unroadworthy and unsafe due to a combination of insufficient tread and incorrect inflation.

The assessment found:

  • 68 per cent of tyres were incorrectly inflated (over or under)
  • 32 per cent of tyres did not have sufficient tread to be considered safe or roadworthy

This month's Traction would therefore like to provide some tips on what drivers should be advised to look for on their vehicle....

  • Inspect your tyres fortnightly, when they are cold, and check their pressure against the placard (found inside the passenger door pillar). Do not check or adjust pressure when tyres are warm (pressure build up is normal in warm tyres).
  • Driving vehicles with tyres that are under-inflated or have large pressure differences can be dangerous. It can affect vehicle handling and may contribute to premature tread wear.
  • If your car is heavily loaded or is towing a boat, caravan or loaded trailer you may have to increase tyre pressure. Follow the advice on your tyre placard or in the vehicle handbook.
  • All four tyres, and the spare, should have at least 1.6mm of tread at various points across the circumference of the tyre. This can be assessed by visually examining your tyres to ensure they have sufficient and legal tread (use the tyre's tread wear indicator, which can be found by using the triangular sign on the shoulder of the tyre to determine the minimum recommended tread depth);
  • Check the side wall of all tyresfor cuts, abrasions, any embedded foreign objects and bulges; bulges and cuts in tyres may mean they are unsafe. Tyres like this should be checked by a specialist.
  • Clean dirt from around valves and ensure valve caps are fitted. Valve caps are designed to protect the valve from potential damage and prevent air leaking from the tyre.
  • Check for un-even tyre wear to ensure wheel alignment and balancing are correct. Misaligned and unbalanced tyres can cause vibrations and unevenly worn tyres can affect resistance to aquaplaning.

We would advise that if you work in a store environment you use the above information to help train your team.

May 2008