Tyres are probably the most under-estimated part of motoring. No matter how much you invest in your vehicle, it’s tyres which are your first line of defence against an accident. They also affect the comfort of your ride and they represent a big slice of any motoring budget.

Tyres become especially critical in the South African winter, as ice appears on the Highveld roads, rain (hopefully) drenches the Western Cape and the ever-present potholes across the country seem to get deeper.

Jeff Osborne of Gumtree Autos offers these basic tips for tyre maintenance.

  1. A tyre check is free so drop into a tyre dealer every six months at minimum and always do so before a long journey.
  2. Most dealers will give genuine advice and show you the indicators of a worn tyre if they’re recommending a change, but, if you’re in doubt, get a second opinion.
  3. If your vehicle is shuddering or running strangely then there’s almost certainly a problem with your tyres and/or alignment – check it out urgently.
  4. If you’re worried about your tyres, insist that the dealer raises the vehicle and checks thoroughly before giving you the OK because a dangerously worn section on the inside can easily be missed on a ground inspection.
  5. Invest in decent tyres (and the right ones for your size of vehicle) – there’s a proven performance difference with quality, properly fitted products especially when braking in the wet. Think of the extra cost as a form of insurance policy. Be prepared to shop around but always compare the exact same tyres.
  6. Make sure you get your wheels aligned regularly, you will make the cost back in longer tyre life.
  7. Protect your tyres – never drive fast on rough roads or through potholes and remember that ramping kerbs can affect alignment.

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