The beginning of the school holidays means for many cars the end of the everyday school run and the start of weekends away at the beach or in the country, leading up to the mass exodus in August. Longer days and warmer weather seem to suggest that the emergency for cars has come to an end, and that you can start thinking about maintenance again in autumn when the time comes to fit your winter tyres back on. Reality however is quite different, because warmer temperatures and carrying luggage are stressful situations for many parts of your car, starting with the four tyres.
A safe journey begins with those checks which should be carried out at least once a month, but which are often forgotten. These are just a few simple inspections, which owing specifically to their simplicity shouldn’t be postponed or ignored. There’s room for DIY, for those of you who have some experience, but it is obvious that contacting your trusted tyre specialist will give you a total guarantee of a safe check-up. It is only once your car is up on that hydraulic bridge that any damage can be spotted on the inner side of the tyres, as these parts remain inaccessible when on the road.
Why go to the tyre specialist
The aim is to identify any sign of abnormality; cuts, swelling and cracking which in conditions of critical loads could prove extremely dangerous. A professional is also able to assess whether the valves are in good condition, or whether it is best to replace them before you find yourselves stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat tyre. Beware of the tread wear too, as this should not be measured in a single point, but in several places across the width and circumference, with the aim of identifying any abnormal wear which could stem from incorrect trim or pressure levels.
Danger lies in the wear
If you are going on a long journey, don’t postpone the replacement of all four tyres if the level of wear is close to its limit. This means you shouldn’t wait until you see the indicators signalling 1.6 millimetres of residual tread pattern (the minimum permitted by the Highway Code), but you had better replace them in advance when you reach the 3-millimetre mark. Otherwise, the greater risks arise in the event of a summer storm, in the form of longer stopping distances and a reduced speed, leading to the risk of aquaplaning, with the ensuing loss of vehicle direction control.
It is important to check the tyre pressure
Another simple check is the inflation pressure. First of all, it should be checked with the tyres cold, before you leave, because the friction generated by the weight and by the high temperatures alters the values after a few kilometres. The pressure should be that recommended by the car manufacturer, taking into account the load conditions. The values can be found in the owner’s handbook, as well as on the stickers you may find on the door post, inside the fuel filler flap or in the glove box. If the car has a spare wheel, remember this too, ensuring the related pressure is the highest among those recommended.
Once the check-up of the four (or five) tyres is complete, all that is left to do is check the levels of the fluids: water, oil, and windscreen wiper liquid, and top these up if necessary. Then check the condition of the light bulbs, without exception, including the brake lights and the number plate frame lights.