TYRE MAINTENANCE BEFORE A TRIP
This is the stuff lifelong memories (or nightmares) are made of – long road trips with family, or friends, or both. But first things first: the checklist for the trip … Luggage. Awesome Playlist. Snacks. Travel Games. Sunscreen. Sunglasses. Neck Pillows. Car Documents. Flashlight. Toilet Paper. Hand Sanitizer. Mints …
And headlining them all, Vehicle Health Inspection! It is imperative that you check the condition of your windshield wipers, exterior lights, horn, engine belt, air filter, dashboard lights, oil, other fluids, battery, brake pads, and most importantly because your entire trip is riding on it, the tyres.
Just the right pressure. Many people are unaware that properly inflated tyres can improve fuel efficiency by up to 3%. What’s more, under-inflated tyres are not just a waste of fuel, they are unsafe, can affect the vehicle’s ride and handling, and don’t last as long, costing you even more in the long run.
Tyres must be checked before a long trip when they are cold (at least 3-4 hours after they have last been driven, and given the hot summers in the GCC, perhaps a longer cooling period will be required). Your vehicle owner's manual will mention the manufacturer-recommended pressure for all your tyres, including the spare.
Even new vehicles equipped with tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), should be checked with a pressure gauge before a long road trip to be sure and safe.
Don’t spare ‘the spare’. Before your road trip, it is just as important to check your spare for proper tyre pressure and any other issues, including age.
Tread wisely. Proper tread depth is crucial in preventing sliding and skidding in adverse conditions like sandstorms and fog, which are common in the region. The minimum tread depth is 2/32nd of an inch (1.6 mm). You should visually check tires for any signs of damage, uneven wear and abnormally smooth areas. Sidewalls should also be checked for hollows, cuts, bulges or other abnormalities.
A proper lineup. Misalignment of wheels, sometimes caused by jolts from hitting a curb or a pothole, can often go undetected, leading to uneven and rapid tread wear. Should you experience a ‘pulling’ sensation or vibration while driving, chances are the wheels need to be realigned by a tyre dealer or garage at the earliest. Even if you do not experience such irregularities, checking the alignment is a must before a long road trip.
Around we go. One of the best ways to achieve more uniform wear and increase the life of tyres, is to rotate them regularly (approximately every 5,000 – 8,000 miles unless the vehicle manual has a different recommendation. If your road trip falls between the rotations, and you experience uneven wear, get a professional to check for, and correct, any misalignment or mechanical problem.
Take a load off. With a car full of people - big and small, supplies for the road, and luggage in the boot, it’s easy to overload a vehicle during a road trip. The more the weight, the greater the load on the tyres, which in turn can shorten their lifespan. It will also increase your fuel consumption. So check your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s maximum load before you load up.
With these all-important checks out of the way, your road trip should be ‘good to go’!