Strange as it may seem, there are black, round, rubberised things that can make a huge difference in life. You could say they mean life itself.
Tyres are what keep us heading where we want to and prevent us from dying – no two ways about it. Each contact patch is about the size of your hand – now, that’s not a lot considering how crucial it is to keeping us on this side of the grave.
Here’s a fun trick for you: Have a look at some of the tyres on cars of family and friends and examine how much tread they have.
The matchstick test is one of the easiest and most reliable – the head of the match is the minimum depth of tread you need for your tyres to be effective – and it’s amazing how many cars don’t pass. If you have an SUV, you need to pay even closer attention.
A local tyre shop relayed a story recently. A lady came in and asked what the furry stuff on her tyres was. The tyre fitter went out and had a look, thinking it sounded a bit weird.
On inspecting the tyres, he was stupefied. The furry patch was the canvas. The tread had completely worn through. He then went into great detail explain how it happens.
Her question? “So, is that bad?”
People just aren’t being educated on tyre safety, which is a huge mistake. Usually, critical info like this is passed down from parents to children. With today’s busy life and throwaway society, though, kids aren’t being taught how crucial tyres are to their daily lives.
So why isn’t such information included in the driver’s licence test, or even in schools? A couple of simple photos are all that’s needed.
One with tyre wear on the outsides, and one of tyre wear in the middle. What causes the difference between the two? Well, if you’re playing along at home, it’s under-inflation and over-inflation.
Another question to be asked would be how often should tyres be checked for pressure? And, of course, if you see canvas, what should you do?
It’s at this impressionable early stage that we can make a real difference. Otherwise, we end up with the scenario mentioned above.
In fact, after the lady was told that she was lucky to have made it into the tyre shop without the rubber exploding, she complained that she didn’t have enough money to buy four new tyres, so they should only fit two. But, while she did that, she went off to the local electrical store and bought a new Samsung S8. Unbelievable.
When it comes to those big, black, round, rubber things, people have their priorities all wrong. Tyres aren’t just a necessary evil, they are just necessary – especially when you consider that when we travel at 100km/h, we’re actually covering 27.7 metres every second.
Then, if that van pulls out in front of you or changes lanes into you, your brakes are relying on the tyres to help take avoiding action or come to a stop. It is actually worth spending a few extra dollars on – cheap Chinese junk just isn’t going to cut it, especially when the weather turns sour.
What the tyre shop guy is trying to sell you needs to be taken with a grain of salt as a lot of the “independent” stores are owned, or part owned, by tyre companies. So, read some proper reviews and tyre tests, and pay particular attention to the compound – if it’s softer, it’ll wear quicker, but the grip levels are better as a result.
Not everyone can afford the high end brands, but there are plenty of good brands out there that are affordable. Regardless of tread pattern, compound or price, make sure you look after your tyres. Rotate them regularly, look at them every now and then and please, please, keep checking those pressures.
After all, doing just that could make a difference to life itself.