Michelin 18 May 2010
Check your tyre pressures once a month and before long journeys.
A tyre can actually be quite under inflated without looking "flat". So you should check the pressures regularly, particularly before a long journey. The right pressure is one factor in the safety and longevity of your tyres.
Ideally, check pressures when the tyres are cold; this means that they have not been used in the last 2 hours, or they have covered less than 2 miles at low speeds. Any tyre not in this "cold" condition is considered to be "hot".
If the tyres are "hot" when they are checked:
In cases of unusual pressure loss, have the internal and external condition of the tyre, the condition of the wheel and the valve checked by a tyre specialist.
Inflation with nitrogen does not dispense with the need for regular tyre pressure maintenance as specified above.
Recommended tyre inflation pressures for your vehicle can normally be found in the vehicle handbook or on a label fixed on the vehicle, for example on the door frame or the fuel filler cap. Use the pressures relating to your tyre sizes and vehicle load/speed conditions.
Check your tyres' tread depth and general condition regularly.
Tyres must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 1.6 mm. This is because you may no longer be driving with sufficient safety and you may be breaking the law. Tread depth gauges can be purchased from tyre specialists.
A good time to get your suspension alignment checked is at a service or prior to an MOT.
If the suspension alignment (tracking) on your vehicle is incorrect, then road holding may be affected and your safety could be at risk. It's not always possible to feel if your suspension alignment 'is out'. You may have hit a kerb or pothole, which could have put your suspension out of alignment without you noticing. It's a good idea to have a tyre specialist periodically check if any tracking adjustments are necessary, for example at a service or before an MOT.
If tyres are being rotated around the vehicle, check the balance at the same time. Tyre rotation is usually done every 6,000 to 8,000 miles.
There is a great deal of confusion between tracking and balancing. Tracking concerns adjusting the angles of the wheels, while balancing allows the tyres to spin without vibrating. Balancing prevents premature wear of the tyre, and also protects the vehicle's suspension, steering systems and bearings. This contributes significantly to passenger comfort.
It’s essential for safety reasons to replace tyre valves every time the tyres are changed.
The valve plays a very important part in keeping your tyre airtight. It is subjected to high pressure and gradually deteriorates due to the forces put on it from the rotation of the wheel. These forces are quite dramatic. At 62mph the valve has a force of 1.7 kg pulling on it. It's essential to have the valve replaced each time a tyre is changed. This will contribute to the life expectancy and safety of your tyres.
It could prove a false economy to compromise the life of your tyres, or even your personal safety, for the sake of the price of a new valve. Be sure to check carefully with your tyre dealer that they've replaced the valves when they change your tyres.
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