How to Spot Tyre Faults

When you check tyres you must also look for damage and wear. Deep cuts, showing the reinforcing, mean immediate replacement is essential, as does any sign of the tyre breaking up, like missing bits of tread.

A less obvious danger is a lump or distortion in the tyre sidewall. This means air is getting between the layers of the tyre, so it is breaking up on the inside, which could result in a blow-out at speed, where the tyre suddenly disintegrates. It must be replaced.

It may sound obvious, but anything sticking in a tyre should be removed. A pointed stone or a small screw may not be long enough to puncture the tyre in one go, but it could work its way in if you carry on driving. In addition, you don’t know it is a short screw until you pull it out. It is possible for a long object to pierce the tyre and not produce immediate deflation, but it could cause a sudden collapse at speed.

Reading tyre wear

Uneven tread wear can reveal a number of problems if you know how to read it and, if spotted early enough, could save the cost of having to prematurely replace a tyre.

If the tyre has patches where the tread is more worn it suggests the wheel is not balanced properly. If the wheel is unbalanced, especially on the front, you usually feel a vibration at certain speeds. Any tyre dealer can balance the wheel and it only costs a few pounds. Balancing involves a machine that shows where the wheel and tyre have a heavier spot, through manufacture or wear, so a small weight can be attached to the rim to counter its effect. Without it, the wheel does not rotate at an even speed because the heavy spot always wants to get to the bottom faster than the lighter side, which is the vibration you feel.

If the tread is worn up both edges, this suggests under-inflation because the tread has curved inwards in the middle, increasing wear at the edges, but if the increased wear is up the centre of the tread it suggests over-inflation because the centre is being pushed out. If you get either of these problems when you have regularly checked the pressures, make sure you are using the right ones and that your pressure gauge is accurate.

Ask a tyre dealer to compare your pressure gauge with theirs, which are usually calibrated.

Tread wear up one side of the tyre, often accompanied by feathering along one edge of the tread blocks, suggests the wheels are out of alignment. If this is bad, you may also notice the car pulling to one side. The suspension and steering are set up to present the wheels to the road at a precise angle and hitting something hard, like a deep pothole or kerb, can misalign the wheels. The wheel is then going along at the wrong angle, scrubbing off tread as it does so. If tyres show the slightest sign of this sort of wear, get alignment (sometimes called tracking) checked. Many tyre dealers do it free and only charge if adjustment is needed, which costs less than replacing a tyre. However, if the tread has worn too much up one side you may have to replace the tyre anyway because the car will never run true on a tyre with a wedge-shaped cross section, which might also increase wear on other tyres.

Related posts:

  1. How to Check Your Cars Tyre Pressures
  2. How to Establish the Best Tyre Pressures for Your Car
  3. How to Repair Tire Punctures
  4. When to Replace Tires and How to Extend their Life
  5. Problems with Michelin Tires

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