As with just about everything with a car, paying attention and being proactive are the keys to a successful trip. First, we recommend you take a good look at your tyres. Here are a few things that could mean trouble on the road ahead:
Check The Inflation
Proper tyre inflation is very important; underinflated tyres can make controlling your car more difficult, reduce petrol mileage and may lead to tyre failure. Use a tyre pressure gauge to be sure tyres are inflated properly. Check your tyre pressure every month as well as before long trips or when carrying extra load. The vehicle manufacturer's recommendations for tyre pressure can be found on a label affixed to the driver's door or door jamb, or in the vehicle owner's manual. Remember that tyre pressure should be checked when the tires are "cold," which means when your car hasn't been driven for three hours or for less than 1.6 kilometres at moderate speed.
It doesn't just plague middle-aged men. Tyre tread wears away over time and should have a minimum of 1.6mm depth. Fortunately, this is an easy thing to check: Use a tread depth gauge for measurement to get the most accurate reading.
Uneven Tread Wear
Many factors can contribute to tyre tread looking uneven, such as wear on one side of the tread. Improper inflation, problems with a car's suspension and misaligned wheels are a few of these factors. Flat spots may indicate a problem with the tyre; have it checked by a tyre service professional as soon as possible.
Tyres with sidewalls that look cracked, split, cut, or sliced may have been damaged by road hazards, underinflation, overloading or abrasion from curbs. The rubber may also have been damaged by environmental factors like excessive exposure to heat or ozone. When this happens, your tyres may be susceptible to failure. It is highly recommended to have them checked by a tyre service professional.
Bulges and Blisters
If there is an unusual bump or blister anywhere on a tyre, replace it as soon as possible. Bubbles like this are signs of damage within the tyre structure that could lead to its failure.
A vibration problem could be caused by any number of mechanical ailments, including misaligned wheels or a bent rim, but it could also signal tyre damage. If you feel a vibration or hear unusual noises, have it inspected by a tyre service professional, and replace the tyre if necessary.
Now that you've paid a little closer attention to your tyres and sent your car to the shop for a tyre tune-up, there's a few more things you can do to keep the ride smooth from here on out:
Get in Line
One bad run-in with a curb or pothole can throw a car out of alignment, possibly causing tyres to wear unevenly and wear out sooner than necessary. Have a mechanic check your alignment periodically to make sure you're driving the straight and narrow.
Switch Things Around
To make sure all four tyres wear evenly and perform as designed, rotate your tyres according to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations found in your vehicle owner's manual, or every 10,000 kilometres.
Don't leave home without one. Unless you're outfitted with run-flat tyres (like the revolutionary Bridgestone Run-Flat Technology Tyres), carrying a spare tyre can spare you a serious headache. It's important to maintain a spare just like any other tyre, checking it every month for proper inflation and making sure it is in useable condition. A neglected spare can be pretty much as bad as not having one.
Your tyres are the foundation of your vehicle. Keep them happy and healthy, and they'll keep you rolling along.