In today’s article, I shall be giving you a comprehensive post on how you can give your tire/tyres optimal maintenance so that you can save yourself from avoidable accidents and on a lighter note, save yourself from expensive repairs. These tips have a universal application but I am going to focus mainly on countries with high temperatures and bad roads, of course, you will agree with me that my dear country Nigeria falls within this category. We have to answer the following questions: What is optimal tire inflation? what is over inflation of tires? what is underinflation of tires, what am I supposed to be aware of about my tires as a car owner? finally, what should I avoid doing with my tires as a driver.
WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW AND DO AS A DRIVER / CAR OWNER?
- You must know the lifespan and production date of your vehicle(This very important if you are using a used tire): tires have a lifespan of between 6 to 10 years depending on the quality, and temperature of the country. I will advise those in a high-temperature environment like Nigeria to start applying caution immediately their tires clocks 6 years from the year of production. In fact, if you ride your vehicle very often and on all kinds of road, 4 to 5 years is enough for your tires to expire. Most tire’s threads will wear off before it reaches its expiration day for commercial drivers. If you are buying a used tire, do not buy a tire that was produced about 6 to 10 years ago. Please do not risk your life and that of your passengers. To check the production date of tires, please view the image below(the tire in my pic below was produced in the 16week in year 2012 meaning if you buy it in 2017 used or unused, 5 years is already off its age /lifespan):
- Buy the correct tire type: Please if you are not in Russia or any part of the world with extreme cold and snow, do not buy winter tires. Instead, buy an all season tires. winter tires when used in summer or dry season as its being called in Nigeria, will wear off quickly and can explode faster than all season when its under extreme pressure. To distinguish an all-seaon tires from a winter tire, look for the following pointers
- Please use the tires specified for your vehicle: Some people will change the tires that come with their vehicle to a taller or wider one. Please if your tire version is (P205/55/16R) do not change it to 215(width) 65(height) and 17r(rim). If you must change it at all due to the huge dilapidated conditions of the roads in your country, you can go higher one step but avoid going wider. I will personally advise you against changing the version of your tires as its disadvantages outweighs its advantages. It can affect the handling and turning of the car.
- Buy your own tire pressure gauge and make sure it is either digital or dial. please avoid stick/pencil-like tire gauge that are mostly used by local vulcanizers in Nigeria. I got a dc-powered tire inflator + gauge combo for one of my neighbours and up till now, he is still thanking me. You need your guage to be able to challenge your vulcanizer whenever he is trying to overinflate your tires. In the case below, the product can gauge and inflate the tires up to 100psi
- Please do not go about changing vulcanizers: Unless in an emergency situation, please stick with your most trusted vulcanizer.
- Know the manufacturer’s specified pressure for your tires also known as PSI: Now this is a tricky condition in Nigeria especially for cars. if you are driving a truck or an SUV, please do not go above or below the psi in your manual. In some cars, you will be told to use 35psi for the front tires and 30psi for the back. If you use the bad roads of Nigeria, I can recommend you add just 5psi each at most. even if the tire manufacturers says maximum load is 50/45. please do not inflate up to what the tire manufacturers say follow the vehicle’s manual or use your discretion to add just 5psi each at most. Alternative means of checking your tire psi apart from consulting your manuals is by checking it at the door jam of the driver’s side. If you do not know your cars psi maybe because your car is too old, please go at least 5% below what the tire producers say you should put in it.
- Check your tire pressures at least once a month: whether it is well-inflated or not, alway check them at least once a month and this includes a total inspection of the tires.
- When you have a flat tire or a tire with low pressure: Please ply the smoothest road available until you get to a tire shop /vulcanizer for repair. Also make sure you avoid falling into potholes and bumps while you have a tire that is low in air.
THINGS YOU SHOULD AVOID DOING WITH TIRES
- If you sense that your tires are over-inflated, please do not over speed. speed in itself kills while speeding with an abnormal tire put you are a lesser risk of surviving an auto crash. life has no duplicate.
- Please as said earlier, do not allow your vulcanizer determine the air in your tires.
- For commercial transports operators, make sure you have an official vulcanizer who must well be monitored so as not to endanger the lives of the passengers due to his greed or negligence
- if you must give anyone permission to help you go and fix your car, please always check the gauge before you start driving them
- For those who travel a lot with their cars, please do not allow more than two patches in your tires before you replace them.
- Do not spray your tires: It is recommended that you wash them instead.
WHY DO WE OVER INFLATE TIRES?
There are just three answers for this: 1. it slightly improves fuel mileage and 2. It is due to ignorance or greediness of some vulcanizer(especially in Nigeria) 3. However, higher inflation pressures usually provide an improvement in steering response and cornering stability up to a point
WHAT ARE THE DANGERS INHERENT IN OVER INFLATING TIRES
- Your car will ride rougher because it cannot compress and spread the impact over its entire surface the tire cannot cushion the weight of the car as well.
- The vehicle will be twitchier
- The roll resistance of your tire will decrease significantly during winter / rainy season and this can wear out the threads faster. its footprint in contact with the road is reduced
- if a vehicle’s tires are overinflated by 6 psi, they could be damaged more easily when running over potholes or debris in the road
- Over-inflating your tires as little as 6psi can lead to excess damage when driving over uneven sections of road and/or potholes
- Overinflation will also cause the tire to bulge out along the centre of the treads
- When tires are overinflated, they will wear unevenly. This will cause more stress on the tire itself, which can lead to leaks and blowouts
DANGERS OF DRIVING ON UNDERINFLATED TIRES
- While 6 psi doesn’t seem excessively low, remember, it usually represents about 20% of the tire’s recommended pressure
- If a vehicle’s tires are underinflated by only 6 psi it could lead to tire failure
- Additionally, the tire’s tread life could be reduced by as much as 25%
- Underinflated pressure will allow the tire to deflect (bend) more as it rolls
- An underinflated tire will build up internal heat, increase rolling resistance and cause a reduction in fuel economy of up to 5%
- You would experience a significant loss of steering precision and cornering stability
- Increased friction can cause the tires to overheat, which can lead to premature wear, tread separation and blowouts.
BENEFITS OF TIRES THAT ARE PROPERLY INFLATED
1. Fuel Economy
Fuel economy is a buzzword in today’s America. It’s also a very important concept. Saving fuel saves money for the driver, but it also cuts down national dependence on foreign oil and reduces the need for costly and harmful oil drilling. Having properly inflated tires gives a vehicle better gas mileage, allowing you to go further with less fill-ups, whether it’s better fuel efficiency in city or highway driving.
2. Less Wear on Tires
It’s also true that good tire pressure means tires won’t wear out as quickly. Along with other tire tips like tire rotation, alignment and balancing, keeping tire pressure accurate will decrease the issue of “bad wear patterns,” where some parts of the tire can get worn down quickly. Avoid return visits to the tire shop by keeping the right amount of air in each tire.
3. Avoiding Accidents
Good tire pressure also provides better handling in a vehicle. When tire pressure is low, on the other hand, the risk of some kinds of accidents can increase. When the vehicle is not as able to maintain traction on the road, driving gets generally more dangerous. This is another prime reason why drivers who know about the best car maintenance procedures always make sure that their tires are holding the correct amount of air pressure.
If you need help acquiring a durable tire inflator + gauge combo, you can write to me at info @ lemmymorgan.com. Meanwhile, help save a life or more, share this.