Tyre safety: Why you can’t afford to overlook it

Car driving on road close up of tyres

Alice Piper

Posted November 16, 2021

Almost half of Australians delay buying new tyres as long as possible. Here’s what you need to know to maintain your tyres and vehicle safety, and even save money at the bowser.

Tyres are not the first thing that come to mind when Australian motorists think ‘road safety’.

In fact, 40 per cent of Australian drivers are unaware of legal tyre safety standards according to the Australian Road Safety Foundation, and one in three admit to driving on what they suspect to be unroadworthy tyres.

What’s more, 48 per cent of drivers delay buying new tyres as long as possible.

But when tyres are the connection between the vehicle and road, making sure they adhere to legal safety standards is crucial to keeping you, and everyone else on the road safe – especially during the busy summer road trip season and time where driving skills have deteriorated post lockdown.

“Motorists driving on worn tyres increase risk and danger to themselves and other motorists, says Dion Cachia, Merchandise Manager, 4x4 Adventure & Escape, Repco.

“No matter how good of a driver you are, and no matter what type of car you have, your overall safety depends a lot on the tyres you’re using and the grip they provide.”

“Proper and regular tyre maintenance and regular checks can help mitigate the chance and severity of motor accidents and thankfully it’s much easier these days through emerging products and technologies such as tyre inflator kits and pressure monitors.”

So, whether you’re travelling domestically, going off-road in your 4x4, camping or caravanning, or just headed on an adventure down the coast, here’s how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this holiday period – and even save money - through better tyre safety and maintenance. 

Four tips for better tyre safety

Inflate and monitor tyre pressure

Maintaining proper tyre pressure is not just important for improving your braking distance. An under inflated tyre can increase a vehicle's fuel consumption and end up costing you a lot more in the long run – especially at a time of high fuel prices.

“International research shows that tyres at around 40 per cent below the recommended tyre pressure can increase fuel consumption by up to 8 per cent,” says Cachia.  

“This can mean a bigger bill each time you visit the petrol station."

Keeping a tyre inflator handy in the boot of your car can help you inflate under inflated tyres no matter how remote you are this festive season, and save you money over the long term.

Not only that, understanding changes in tyre pressure can help prevent any nasty surprises or breakdowns on a road trip.

“The last thing you want on your long-awaited summer road trip is to break down on the side of the road because of an undetected slow leaking or low pressure tyre,” says Cachia.  

“A tyre pressure monitoring system, which uses air pressure sensors to read tyre pressure and then sends you the data in real time, can save you getting into a lot of trouble on the road.”

“It’s also incredibly handy if you’re into off-road 4x4 driving where it’s even more critical to have the right tyre pressure for different terrains,” he adds. 

Carry a spare tyre – and know how to change one

Making sure your spare tyre is fully inflated and has adequate tread is essential when hitting the road, particularly for longer journeys.

“Carrying a spare tyre is an essential part of a road trip but knowing how to change a tyre is just as important, particularly if you’re travelling through remote locations,” says Cachia.  

A wheel nut remover is a great piece of hardware for anyone heading on a road trip this summer, and can even make it easier to change over tyres where wheel nuts have become stuck due to lack of use or longer intervals between replacing tyres.

car on road trip along the Great Ocean Road

Always inflate and monitor tyre pressure before a long road trip to save money on fuel. 

Inspect tyres for damage – and know how to fix it

Depending on your level of tyre or valve damage, DIY tyre repairs may help you get to the next tyre service centre more safely and confidently.

“Tyre damage can compromise your personal safety and that of other motorists,” says Cachia.  

“Keeping a repair kit on hand with things like quick seal strips, rubber cement and spare valves can help get you out of a situation such as repairing a puncture on the road,” he adds. 

Always consider your level of tyre damage before using a tyre repair kit and ensure the tyre is inspected by a professional after repair. For significant tyre damage on the road, contact Emergency Roadside Assistance.

Get your wheel alignment inspected

Before getting in the car for your summer road trip, it’s a good idea to book in for a car service to also get your wheel alignment checked.

Poor wheel alignment can make tyres wear out faster and can cause vibration and skidding when driving, leading to a potential collision.

Find your nearest RACV Auto Care Centre where an accredited mechanic will make sure your vehicle is safe and sound. 

RACV Members save 15-20% off almost everything online and in-store at Repco this November. 
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