Tread carefully when buying motor rubbers

2011-10-28 13:31

You probably think buying tyres is a bit of a yawn, but if you don’t know your tread from your thread you could get taken for a ride.

Especially by the oily salesperson who turns your ignorance into a quick sale.

A little information can go a long way and you can spend the money you save on tyres on a much sexier car accessory – like new rims or a body kit.

Write this down. Know when the tyre was made, when it expires (who knew they did?), what load it is safe to carry and the top speed it can handle.

Next time you are standing next to your car, have a look at your tyres – even if you just remember the three numbers on it that tell you its size. Next up, get to know a few brands – the great, the good, the affordable and the ones to avoid like the knock-offs they are.

Koos Olivier of Johannesburg-based Jody’s Tyres Conti Partner says: “Know your tyre size and even the size of your engine.

“Always ask for other options and don’t just go with the first tyre the salesperson recommends as it might just be the most expensive – and that isn’t always the best tyre to buy.”

He also suggests that as a consumer, you should explain to the salesperson what kind of driving you do. “If you do a lot of driving or you’re a fast driver, premium tyres will suit you best.

These are usually Michellins, Bridgestones and Pirellis.

“Normal tyres for average driving are Dunlops, Firestones and Continentals,” he says.

There are also budget brands, known as green tyres. They have other names but are made by the same well-known companies and are just as good. The examples are Dayton by Firestone, Goodyear’s Sava and Dunlop’s Velocity.

Steer clear of ridiculously cheap tyres, Olivier advises. “Rather pay a little more for a good tyre and peace of mind. And stay away from LingLongs or any other funny names that you haven’t heard of.”

Each tyre also has a row of small squares in the tread. These are tread indicators and if it’s already on the surface of your tyre, you’re in desperate need of some new ones. “These indicators shows that the tread is on 1.6mm, anything less than that it’s not safe,” says Olivier.

Pay attention to how your car drives after leaving a tyre fitment centre.

“If you feel any vibration on your steering wheel just after you’ve fitted new tyres, pull over immediately and check all the nuts on your wheels,” he says.

“People make mistakes and it happens quite often that one or two nuts slip through without being tightened.”

Wheel alignment and balancing are important. Don’t assume that the guy who services your car is going to bother to rotate your front and back tyres.

Olivier says because of South Africa’s bad road conditions, tyres should be aligned every 7 000km. “Also have your tyres checked out every time you hit a pothole. This might be tedious but potholes can cause serious problems.”

Among the problems bad tyres contribute to is a need for new shock absorbers, wheel bearings or a new suspension system.

Continental’s Rene Olivier confirms that each tyre tells a story. So, if you want to save money you’d better start listening.

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