A driving style which avoids excesses not only avoids stressing the mechanics of the vehicle, but in particular those essential elements which allow it to move over the tarmac: the tyres. To avoid excessive wear on the tyres, it is not only important to check them regularly, and to be aware of the appropriate type which is best suited to your own vehicle and the time of year, but also to look after the surface in contact with the road, in every particular.
Respect for the tyres corresponds to respect for the vehicle itself and also for your own safety. An unexpected failure or the absence of adherence when braking can indeed lead to dramatic consequences for yourself, for your passengers and for other people. So avoid wearing down or damaging the sidewall of a tyre near the edge of a pavement, or accelerating strongly from a standing start, as this will inevitably create noise and toxic emissions from the friction as well as subjecting the tyre to a superfluous stress as a result; this will not only increase the life of the tyre itself, but will actually avoid future problems.
One detail that can make you understand how important a tyre’s state of health is is its carrying capacity. Together they can manage to support a weight which is on average more than 50 times their own, and, as a general rule, the area of contact with the tarmac, taking into account a variety of vehicles, corresponds to the handprint of an adult individual. Excessive wear, however, can also be linked to various other factors, not just the driving style of the driver. These factors can also be classified together under the heading “maintenance”. Pressure, balance, alignment, wear and tear - these are just some of the various headings which relate to the health of the tyres and on which their efficiency and effectiveness on the road depend.
Let us start with the aspect of preservation, taking into account the seasonal replacement of the tyres and their various types. Each time you change from winter compounds to summer ones, in the event that you do not use All Season types, the preservation of tyres which have just been removed is one of the important aspects which can guarantee their future usage without any problems. It is advisable, then, to store the tyres in places where the air circulates freely and without any excessive sudden changes in temperature, well away from sharp edges which might cut them, from chemical products and sources of heat, and also to avoid storing them in a horizontal position, or underneath the weight of other tyres or materials of various sorts for a prolonged period of time. Normally however, such tyres should no longer be used after ten years, as the compounds lose their effectiveness and need to be changed.
Of equally fundamental importance is to check the valves of the tyres, another of the aspects which can be neglected. You should check the quality and the state of the valves and valve-caps of each tyre, as these are subjected not only to the gravitational forces of constant spinning, but also to the specific wear and tear attributable to atmospheric conditions or some sort of unexpected damage. These can give rise to one of the aspects which cause a progressive loss of pressure and inevitable consequences for the movement and state of the tyre itself.
Staying with the subject of tyre pressure, this is as functional and vital as checking for any damage, in order to maintain high safety standards. You are advised to run a check every month on tyres which are at rest or at least which have only travelled a few kilometres, in order to verify the correct amount of pressure as set out by the vehicle manufacturer. The level indicated in the owner's handbook. The level of optimal tyre pressure, in actual fact, is not shown on the sidewall of each tyre, among the headings for their branding, and where instead you will find the maximum level which the tyre can tolerate. We talk of optimal tyre pressure, not just in relation to the possible and potentially dangerous losses of control which might occur specifically as a result of an inappropriate level, but also in relation to the durability itself of the tyre which would inevitably be compromised. Too high a pressure compared to the indicated level, in fact, can reduce the life of a tyre by many kilometres, whereas on the other hand too low a pressure can compromise the structure itself.
In the event of any damage, however, it is advisable to consult a specialist who can examine the state of the tyres and advise any necessary replacements. You are advised against any direct intervention yourself, and to consult on an annual basis a qualified operator, who will carry out and guarantee the requisite checks which verify the good health of the tyres, including in the event that you want to carry out any of the checks on their balance or alignment, or if you want to carry out a “switch” of the tyres in order to avoid excessive wear on the compounds which are submitted to constant traction forces.
Early balancing and alignment are other fundamental aspects linked to the safety and durability of your tyres. The former, when it is optimal, avoids damaging vibrations for the mechanical components of the suspension mechanism and a rapid wear of the tyres. After replacing one or several tyres, you should make sure that the balancing is checked in order to avoid the aforementioned problems. On the subject of replacement, it is worth remembering that in the event that two of the four tyres are replaced, you are advised to locate the new ones on the rear axle, which is not linked to the steering function, irrespective of the type of traction. This allows you, by taking advantage of the absence of any direct intervention on the front wheels, to obtain greater control on wet surfaces or during deceleration phases, and to maintain a high level of safety during manoeuvres. In any event, the state of efficiency of the front tyres must always be very high.
Moving on to alignment, a shock encounter with the thickness of a pavement, potholes, sharp objects, irregularities of all types including those which may be suspected within the sidewall of a tyre itself, can also compromise the action of the suspension system and the dynamics of the vehicle, and always to the detriment of safety. Therefore this too is a fundamental factor in the overall efficiency of driving, and you are advised always to carry out precautionary checks before setting out on long journeys or whenever you sense an anomaly in the behaviour of your vehicle.
Finally, it is a good idea never to forget to pay careful attention to the wear of the tread. A groove depth of only 4mm is already too low to guarantee a good level of water drainage and adequate grip, in the event of wet tarmac. In order to check the level of wear, you can use a quick and effortless system. All you need is a 1 Euro coin in the case of summer tyres and a 2 Euro coin for winter tyres, and to insert it into the tread grooves. If you can still see the edge of the coin, the groove depth may be too low and therefore a tyre replacement is advisable. This type of check should be carried out every week.