Thursday, December 19, 2013
Car tyre maintenance and rotation
When it comes to tyres, the myriad myths surrounding it are flabbergasting. Be it the tyre rotation, tyre maintenance, tyre pressure, anything and everything regarding tyres are spoken off in abundance, every mortal has his own set of opinions.
To unravel some of those myths and to unearth the points that really count, I put forth here the critical aspects of tyre maintenance.
The most neglected and often overlooked aspect is rotation of the tyres on a regular basis. This is the most critical aspect to get the maximum life out of the rubber. Any decent tyre can easily run for 50,000 to 60,000 km if maintained properly. The key is to have an even wear and tear on all the 5 tyres. YES! 5. Most people forget that the spare tyre actually is very important in this process, if you want to have the maximum from your tyres.
A simple diagrammatic explanation on how the tyres should be rotated is explained in the image below.
This rotation should be carried about after every 5,000 km run. This rotation works well for front wheel drive, rear wheel drive and 4 wheel drive as well. It ensures that all the 5 tyres are run in all possible directions with all possible weight combinations hence an even wear and tear for all tyres thus maximizing their life. In between this 5000 km if you face a flat tyre situation and you have to use the spare wheel for a few kilometeres then as soon as you get the wheel fixed, put it back in its original position and the spare wheel should go back immediately. This will ensure that there is no hindrance in the rotation policy. Sometimes the servicing centres replace the tyres while doing certain mechanical job, to ensure they placed the tyres in the correct position is almost impossible. Hence it is advisable if we just number the tyres for our sake of convenience. Use a simple paint to number the tyres somewhere inside the rim where it isn’t openly visible.
Second point to ponder is the recommended pressure. Always study the car manual and ensure the recommended pressures are maintained. Get the pressure checked regularly ideally every fortnight. The wear and tear of the tyre is significantly dependent on the tyre pressure. Anything higher than recommended will result in tyres getting uneven wear from the centre. Anything less than recommended will result in the trim of the wheel to wear fast. To ensure that the trim and the centre of the wheel have equal wear, the pressure should be ideal.
Another myth that surrounds the driving community is that while going on highway tyre pressure should be reduced. The logic they give is that the tyre gets heated and hence the air expands and might result in tyre burst. Well, scientifically it looks okay but factually it’s wrong. The companies give the recommended tyre pressure under COLD conditions. One should always get his tyre pressure checked early in the morning or late evening after minimal driving. Never one should check it in a hot day after a long drive. So when you go on a highway it’s always recommended to have a bit higher pressure than recommended rather than lower. If the pressure is lower than recommended the wear and tear will be far more as both the trim and the centre will be rubbing against the road, increasing the chances of burst. In higher than recommended pressure only the centre of the wheel will touch the road avoiding the trim hence less danger of tyre burst. Ideally during highways the tyres should have 2-3 psi more than recommended in all tyres.
Besides, another insight is important to know more about the quality of the rubber of the tyres. If the rubber is hard, the life of the tyre will increase but you will feel the road more. The gravels on the road will be more noticeable although the life will be more for your tyre.
However if the rubber is soft, the feel of the gravels on the road will be less. Not to mention the life will also decrease. So it is kind of a trade-off. I personally prefer hard rubber with more life than soft rubber with more comfort. Obviously it doesn’t mean that hard rubber is not comfortable. It’s just a fraction difference of comfort and durability. To quote certain examples, MRF usually is hard rubber and Bridgestone / Michellin is soft rubber.
The brand could be anything; it’s how you treat your tyres that define their life.