Know the score before your next vehicle inspection while saving money and protecting loved ones with this quick three-point DIY tyre safety check.
A five minute tyre check can reduce wear, save fuel and even lives. Steve Burke from Toyo Tires has been at the coalface of the tyre game for more than 20 years and has developed the three-point tyre inspection check.
1. Wear check
Many motorists don't realise all tyres come equipped with a wear indicator. Checking this indicator doesn't take any special training, and it's the most effective way to determine for yourself exactly what condition tread is in.
"In the main grooves of every tyre there is a small bar that runs across the tread. That's your tread wear indicator. It's sometimes tricky to spot, there's generally an arrow or another icon moulded on the tyre shoulder to show you the way," Steve says.
"The top of the rubber bar indicates the minimum legal tread depth of that tyre. The closer the tread to the top of the bar, the more worn the tyres."
There is no tread wear indicator on the shoulders of the tyre, but a visual inspection will give away the tread condition.
A check is as simple as taking a look at all four tyres.
"First things first, turn your wheel to full lock to check out the fronts," explains Steve.
You may need to squat to check out the rears, though.
"Make sure you check every tyre. Depending on the type of car and its purpose, every tyre can wear differently. Uneven wear often means a wheel alignment issue that you will need to investigate with your tyre dealer."
So, what if your tyres or a tyre are wearing on, or just about level with the wear indicator?
"Replace them," says Steve.
"If the shoulder sections of the tread are smooth, the tyre will also need replacing."
2. Damage inspection
Roads are a magnet for debris. Screws, metal shards, fractured glass and sharp rocks lie in wait Australia-wide, often working their way into a tyre without the driver noticing.
Steve recommends that tyre sidewalls and treads are checked thoroughly. Look out for cuts, gouges bulges and anything that shouldn't be there.
"Air loss and flat tyres are situations everyone wants to avoid, but they aren't the worst outcome. Of more concern is drivers heading out on a busy motorway with a tyre about to fail. High speed, tight quarters and a punctured tyre is an easily avoidable recipe for disaster."
If you notice a puncture or unusual bulging, your first point of contact should be your closest tyre dealer.
3. Manage pressure
The final step in Steve's checklist – a tyre pressure check – is the oldest piece of tyre advice in the book, and for good reason. Tyre pressures naturally decrease as air slowly bleeds through the tyre's inner liner, meaning regular checks are a necessity.
"You can't rely on the way the tyre looks to judge its inflation pressure. It's something that needs to be checked," says Steve.
Fortunately, vehicle manufacturers bolt a placard on the door frame displaying recommended tyre pressures.
"Correct tyre pressure saves fuel, improves on-road grip and increases tyre life. If there's too little pressure friction increases, creating uneven wear on the shoulders of the tyre and increasing fuel consumption. Too much pressure and the tyre loses grip and reduces driver control, wearing heavily on the middle of the tyre."
Steve recommends drivers check their tyre pressure fortnightly, with monthly checks at a minimum. Tyres should be cold, so try to check tyre inflation pressures before the vehicle is driven.