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What you need to know about car tyres

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There are many parts of a car that people would call fundamental to its running. The gear stick shifts through speed and power, the seats make for a comfortable ride and the brakes stop you in your tracks when you need. However, without a good set of tyres, there would be no way of gaining comfortable motion, the ride would be bumpy and you’d find yourself scraping along the road with sparks flying and unimaginable damage being done to your alloys. Your tyres are the point at which the road meets your car and, without them, there would be no journey. So, it’s important you read up on your car tyres before you look to purchase new ones.

What comprises a car tyre?

Firstly, in order to begin to understand about car tyres, it’s good to know what they’re made of. This is easier said than done, as one tyre can incorporate up to 200 different materials. However, as you might expect, tyres are mainly maid of rubber - most commonly vulcanised rubber - which means the rubber has been treated and hardened at high temperatures by use of sulphur. Although still soft enough to absorb minor bumps, this makes your tyres more durable and tougher against the elements, meaning more value and more road miles for your money. Each tyre contains grooves called the ‘tread’, which is constantly touching the road and takes in water and dirt to avoid any sort of build-up on the surface. They contain steel parts in the rim that help keep their shape and stop dents occurring through wear. You will also find a synthetic fibre, called Kevlar, which is used as a reinforcing agent to prevent punctures.

Car tyres and the law

When it comes to road law, driving with worn or damaged tyres could lead to a penalty, be it relating to your license, your vehicle insurance or simply a fine. It is also incredibly dangerous to drive with faulty tyres, and therefore authorities such as traffic police and insurance companies take a dim view of it. In order to ensure your tyres are road-worthy, you should check that;

  • They are correctly inflated and tread depth must not be below the legal minimum (you can look in both the car and the tyre manufacturer’s guide for assistance).
  • All wheels on the vehicle must be compatible with each other.
  • There must be no lumps or tears and no element of the inside parts exposed exposed.

Choosing your car tyre

It’s important for your safety and the safety of other road users that the tyres you choose for your vehicle are the appropriate kind. Firstly, make sure the size is correct by checking the sidewall of the tyre for the measurements and type. This will give you details of the load it can bear as well as speed rating, which explains how effectively the tyre dissipates heat to avoid wear. You will also find details of the traction, which is the tyre’s general ability on the road in all conditions. A top tip would be to buy your new tyres in the autumn, to allow for best traction in winter conditions. If you know all about tyres before you buy, you can ensure the smoothest and most satisfying drive once you hit the road.

published: 04/11/2013 17:00:00

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