How often do we actually look at the tyres of a car before buying it? Not too often, nor do we need to, actually. Because car manufacturers make it a point to ensure their cars are fitted with the tyre most suitable for it. However, a little background on tyres can be immensely useful when it’s time for you to change the tyres of your car, or when you are buying a used car and want to be sure that the car has the right tyres!
But why do you need to know about tyres?
Tyres act as a buffer between the road and the vehicle, absorbing the road shock and vibration and minimizing wear and tear on the car body itself. Being the only part of the car with road contact, tyres play a big role in ensuring safety of the car and its passengers. Be it acceleration, braking, steering or rounding a corner, tyres are crucial, and hence it is extremely important to ensure that they are in the best possible form at all times.
Unfortunately, tyres are often the most uncared parts of our cars. Hardly ever washed and rarely given a second look at. While we focus on cleaning the inside and outside of the car, checking engine oil/coolant etc, we neglect to do even basic maintenance of tyres. Understanding more about tyres, the principles behind having them and the maintenance requirements is essential to have a safe and carefree drive.
More about Tyres
From a car driver point of view, tyres are classified according to materials used (nylon, steel, polyester); construction (Radial, Bias – both tube and tubeless); utility and design (lug, rib, semilug). Radial tyres are associated with long tyre life, improved fuel efficiency, better high speed performance, vehicle handling and greater traction. Bias tyres are not used much anymore in the passenger car industry as they are inferior to radial ones in terms of safety, performance and lifespan.
Both tube and tubeless tyres are still used in India. Tube ones are cheaper to buy and cheaper to fix but can get punctured easily. Tubeless tyres, on the other hand, are a bit more expensive to buy and fix but are safer and need less maintenance.
The sidewall of a Tyre, through different symbols, words, letters and digits, provide essential information about it like brand, model, tyre width, aspect ratio, construction type, rim diameter, rotation direction, load and speed index, manufacturing date, ISI marking etc.
The function of a tyre is influenced by multiple factors:
TYRE PRESSURE – Proper tyre inflation reduces tread movement, rolling resistance and increases water dispersion, resulting in longer life, increased fuel efficiency and improved safety. Both over-inflation and under-inflation can cause early tyre failure and reduced comfort.
LOAD INDEX – Putting load beyond the specified rating can cause steering instability and tyre bursting.
SPEED – Do not exceed the defined speed index (maximum speed a tyre can sustain with a specific load) if you want to avoid the tyres from getting over-heated.
WHEEL ALIGNMENT – The wheel and tyre need to be perfectly aligned to the direction of rotation for perfect vehicle control, uniform and even tyre wear and safety.
WHEEL BALANCING – Imbalanced wheels may cause vibrations affecting steering control. Front as well as rear wheels must be balanced by an expert.
TYRE ROTATION – Rotation of tyre is recommended for a uniform tread wear to achieve longer tyre life.
Do remember that all the tyres of your car must be of the same type. So when you are changing tyres, it’s always wiser to change all 4. Otherwise, if you are changing only some, then ensure that the new ones are of the same type as the older ones.