Why There's More to a Car Tyre Than May Meet the Eye

When it comes to certain parts of your vehicle, appearances can be deceptive. For example, when you look at the tyres and wheels fitted to your car or truck, you may think that they are quite solid and sturdy and able to put up with quite a lot of external abuse when you are driving. Certainly, these components are designed to be hard wearing and keep you safe in everyday life, but the tyre, in particular, is not always as "solid" as it may seem. Why should you bear this in mind when thinking about maintenance?

What Happens to the Air

As you may know, it's important to maintain the correct amount of air in each cover on an ongoing basis. Most people will check this periodically and once they have done so, may think that they can leave everything alone for the foreseeable future. After all, the tyre is sealed, and so long as you don't get a puncture, the volume of air is going to remain intact. 

However, the sidewall of the tyre is actually made up of millions of microscopic holes that cannot be seen by the naked eye and may seem so small that they are inconsequential. However, air will nevertheless escape through these holes ever so slowly, leading to the inevitable result in due course – an underinflated tyre.

Excess Energy and Heat

You need to be particularly careful if you drive on tyres in this condition, as in the worst-case scenario it could lead to excess heat buildup and even a failure. Remember, the tyres have to support the weight of the car to a certain extent, and even though the rubber may seem to be quite inflexible on casual inspection, it will nevertheless flex considerably when in motion. If the tyre has insufficient air, then it may flex more than it should do, and this will create heat through the buildup of energy. Also, under-inflation can lead to inconsistent load distribution within the tyre, and this can carry the risk of failure.

Changing Your Habits

If you've been used to checking your tyres once a month and that's it, change your habits. Get hold of a pressure gauge and take the readings at least once per week from now on. As you do so, have a look at the condition of the sidewall and tread and if you see anything that looks a little suspect, take the vehicle to a car service as soon as possible.