All Posts by Dean Wood

Wheel Alignment

Let’s Get This Straight: Myths about Aligning Your Car Tyres

Your current wheel alignment regime may be dangerous and costly

When it comes to getting the longest life out of your tyres and making sure your vehicle is safe, wheel alignment is not something to be ignored. However, there is a lot of misinformation out there on when your wheels need to be aligned. The most common myth is that ‘you only need to align your wheels when you change your tyres’.

What is wheel alignment?

A wheel alignment consists of adjusting the angle of the wheels on your vehicle to ensure your wheels are straight. This reduces tyre wear and makes your vehicle safer.

Why do you need to align your wheels?

Wheel alignments should be a standard part of your vehicle maintenance. Even if your vehicle is tracking as straight as an arrow, it’s a good idea to get your alignments checked regularly. While tyres often only need to be replaced after every 50,000 kilometres or more, wheels should be realigned more often to reduce uneven tread wear and improve the life of your tyres.

If you are experiencing any of the following problems, you should get your vehicle wheel alignment checked immediately:

  • Uneven wear on your tyres
  • Steering is pulling to either the right or the left
  • Your steering wheel is not aligned to the centre when driving straight
  • Steering wheel vibration

If you have your wheels aligned only when you change your tyres, it will cost you. Your tyres will not last as long and your vehicle will be more dangerous to drive.

Sometimes it is difficult to notice small inconsistencies in your vehicles tracking. Your vehicle may pull; to one side only slightly. However, if this goes unnoticed it will get progressively worse and cause uneven tread wear on your tyres. By having a regular wheel alignment, you ensure that your vehicle always drives straight. The tyre technician will solve problems before they become serious.

What causes wheels to become misaligned?

There are many things that could knock your wheels out of alignment. Here are the three most common:

·      Road hazards

Unfortunately, road maintenance is an issue in Queensland. The chances are you are going to hit a pothole (or seven). Driving through potholes, hitting other road hazards, or bumping the curb can all cause poor wheel alignment.

·      Tyre wear and tear

Tyres are not indestructible. If taken care of properly your tyres can last a long time, but some wear and tear is inevitable. Over time, tyre rubber will crack and lose elasticity. The alignment of your wheels will start to come off centre.

·      Minor accidents

Almost one in five Australian motorists have been involved in a road accident of some kind in the past five years. Many are minor accidents, with little or no notable damage. The motorist believes there is mothing wrong. However, no matter how minor an accident it is still possible to knock your vehicle’s wheel alignment off. If you are involved in an accident, no matter how trivial, you should always have it checked over.

What the experts say

Most tyre and vehicle manufacturers recommend similar maintenance for your wheel alignments. Bridgestone’s advice is typical of that from tyre manufacturers:

 “You should perform a wheel alignment at least once a year, every time you rotate your tyres, or at every 10,000 km interval.

Compare this to when most motorists get their wheel alignment checked: only when they change their tyres. That’s around once every 50,000 kilometres – or five times as long as recommended.

If your doctor gave you a prescription for medication to be taken every day, would you do your own thing and take it only once every five days? I didn’t think so. Get your wheel alignment checked every 10,000 kilometres.

Is your steering pulling, or your steering wheel vibrating? Feel free to contact us to book an appointment or ask any questions you may have.

Keeping your family and fleet safe on the road,

Dean Wood

part worn tyres

Part-worn tyres – a dangerous, false economy

Should you buy used tyres?

I recently read a report from the UK, warning that almost half of part-worn tyres sold are illegal. They are either damaged or don’t have enough tread on them, or both. Some part-worn tyres are nearly 30 years old! Driving on defective tyres is a big problem. It causes injuries and deaths. 719 injuries and 17 deaths in the UK in 2017 were caused by illegal, defective or underinflated tyres.

Part-worn tyres in Australia

The sale of new tyres in Australia is highly regulated. They must conform to ADR23 guidelines. New tyres have between 6mm and 8mm of tread, though the legal limit is 1.5mm. ADR23 doesn’t discuss second-hand tyres.

Why would you buy part-worn tyres?

There is only one reason to be tempted by part-worn tyres: to save money. To save a few dollars, there is a cost. That cost is risk. The risk you take by not knowing the history of the tyre. You must consider the age of the tyre – tyres don’t age well like fine wines. They degrade and weaken.

Are part-worn tyres dangerous?

The clue is in the name. Part-worn tyres are older. They have been used. Older tyres suffer from degraded rubber. Used tyres suffer from wear and tear and damage. Part-worn tyres are part-safe tyres. When you think about the job that tyres do for you – in terms of comfort, handling and safety – buying used tyres should worry you.

New tyres come with deep treads. Premium tyres provide premium grip. Part-worn tyres are often sold with 3mm of tread or less. That’s above the legal minimum, but dangerously close to being dangerous. That’s why we recommend you replace tyres if the tread is 3mm.

In the UK, part-worn tyres should have undergone testing before they are sold. Tests include internal integrity and inflation testing. They should also have at least 2mm of tread remaining. Despite these regulations, many part-worn tyres in the UK are sold in an illegal condition.

Here in Australia, we don’t have such strict rules on part-worn tyres. You’re on your own. Buyer beware. If you do buy part-worn tyres and they don’t have enough tread, you could be fined more than $100. Per tyre. And a demerit point per tyre.

When tyres are damaged, they become less safe

If you damage your tyres, each nick or scuff makes them a little less safe. Part-worn tyres have little tears, nick, scuffs and bulges. The accumulation of these could make them dangerous – even if they have enough tread. You may also find small pieces of metal or glass embedded in the tyre. This increases the chances of a tyre blowout.

Do you really save money when you buy used tyres?

You may save a few dollars when you buy part-worn tyres, at least on the initial purchase. But they won’t last like new tyres. You will need to replace them sooner. Much sooner. It’s likely that you’ll end up spending more in the long run. When you add in the poorer safety, buying part-worn tyres makes no sense.

In summary, there is no comparison between new, premium tyres and old, part-worn tyres. If you are concerned about comfort, handling and safety, then avoid part-worn tyres and buy the best-quality new tyres your budget will allow.

For advice on what the best tyres are for your vehicle, driving style and budget, call into our Darra Tyres shop. Feel free to contact us to book an appointment or ask any questions you may have.

Keeping your family and fleet safe on the road,

Dean Wood

Stopping distance

Rubber on the road and stopping distances

The part that your tyres play in braking

Stopping is the most important ability to have when driving. If you can’t stop in time, the consequences don’t bear thinking about. That’s why you should keep your distance when driving – so that, if the vehicle in front stops suddenly, you don’t slam into its rear end. So that your vehicle doesn’t get mangled. So that you don’t get mangled.

What is your stopping distance?

Stopping distance includes two elements.

First is the thinking/reaction time. The time it takes for you to see the brake lights on the vehicle ahead. For you to recognise this as a sign of potential danger, and for your brain to send a signal to your feet and hit the brake pedal. Mostly affecting your reaction time is your focus. If you’re tired, talking, or thinking about other things, your reaction time is likely to be slower.

Second is the braking distance – how far it takes to come to a stop once you have hit the brake pedal. There are plenty of factors in this second part of the equation. Road conditions, weather conditions, brake pads, shocks… all have an affect on braking distance. But, above all of these is your tyres.

How your tyres affect your stopping distance

If you are driving on tyres at the wrong tyre pressure or on worn tyres, your braking distance is going to be affected. Probably a lot more than you think. This is going to put you at risk, as well as your passengers and other road users. The child who runs into the road ahead of you doesn’t stand a chance.

Tyre wear and tear and poor tyre pressure affect how your tyres grip the road. If the road is wet, your braking distance is doubled. If you run on low tread, the effect is equally dangerous.

At only 50mph a car with tyres with the bare legal minimum of tread will take 14 metres’ further braking distance than a car with tyres that have 8mm of tread depth. That’s more than three car lengths of stopping distance. I wonder what that young child’s future could have been?

Whether underinflated or overinflated, if your tyre pressure is wrong it will make it more difficult to control and stop your vehicle. Overinflated tyres have less rubber in contact with the road. This means less grip. Less grip means it takes longer to stop. When a tyre is underinflated, it is harder for it to grip the tarmac.

Poorly inflated tyres also lead to uneven wear and tear. This makes handling more difficult and leads to shorter periods between replacing tyres. So, poor tyre pressure not only makes driving more dangerous, but it costs you more money, too.

Better tyres equal shorter stopping distances equal safer driving

Whatever road you are driving on, whatever the weather conditions, and whatever your reaction time, the better your tyres are the shorter the braking distance will be. And that means safer driving. Fewer accidents. Fewer deaths on the roads in Queensland.

Whether you are driving around the streets of Brisbane, on rural roads, or on the highways, your tyres are critical to stopping distance. They are crucial to avoid hitting children who step into the road without warning. Essential to avoid slamming into the sudden line of traffic ahead of you.

Do premium tyres help reduce braking distance?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about why savvy drivers buy premium tyres in Brisbane. Among the reasons was that they last longer, give a better driving experience, and reduce your fuel consumption. Premium tyres also reduce braking distances. Not only do they benefit from millions of dollars in research and development spending, they are also manufactured with higher-grade materials.

What tyres should you buy to reduce stopping distance?

I started this post by saying that there are two elements that affect stopping distance. The crucial factors, of course, are your reaction time, your brakes, and your tyres. The more alert you are, the shorter your reaction time. The better the condition of your brakes, the shorter your braking distance. And, of course, the better quality your tyres, the shorter your stopping distance.

For advice on what the best tyres are for your vehicle, driving style, and budget, call into our Darra Tyre shop. Feel free to contact us to book an appointment or ask any questions you may have.

Keeping your family and fleet safe on the road,

Dean Wood

Tyre Myths

3 tyre myths that savvy Australian drivers ignore

Get value for money with these tyre tips

Australian drivers suffer from a common human condition, especially when it comes to tyres. We tend to think that we get more value from spending less. We also think that if we don’t use our tyres, they will last longer.

Are you really getting value for money when you buy new tyres?

If you are like most tyre buyers, you already have a budget in mind before you buy new tyres. But, is that set of new tyres in your budget really good value? Of course, being price conscious is necessary – especially when you are making an expensive investment such as buying a new set of tyres.

If you overspend or underspend on tyres, you’ll be making a big mistake either way.

Tyre Myth # 1: Cheaper tyres are better value for money

Cheap tyres are tempting, but are they a good investment? Generally, the mantra that you get what you pay for holds true. Tyres are not cheap to manufacture. It stands to reason that to make tyres more cheaply, a manufacturer probably uses inferior machinery and tooling, and lower-quality raw materials.

The saving you make when buying cheap tyres is usually a false economy. Sub-standard rubber wears faster. This means you will need to replace your new, cheap tyres sooner. You could find yourself buying two sets of cheap tyres for each set of premium tyres. In the long run, cheap tyres like this aren’t value for money.

Of course, this is not the only problem you are likely to suffer with cheap tyres. As the tyre tread wears, you’ll suffer with longer braking distances and poorer handling. Perhaps you don’t value your safety, or that of your passengers and other road users?

Tyre Myth #2: Expensive tyres are the best

Having read the myth about cheap tyres, you might think that the more you spend the better the tyres will be. This also isn’t true. If you have ever been to a restaurant and left thinking that you’d overspent, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Just because a tyre is a brand name, doesn’t mean that the cost of the tyre represents good value for money. Some mid-priced tyres offer very similar quality and performance as their more expensive premium brand counterparts.

You don’t need to buy the most expensive tyres to get a quality product that offers safety and value for money.

Tyre myth #3: If you don’t use tyres they will last a lifetime

There are five considerations to make when you buy new tyres. These include your driving style and the road surfaces on which you usually drive. If you don’t drive many miles, and the miles you do drive are on smooth tarmac, your tyre tread is likely to remain deep and largely unaffected.

However, just because your tread looks robust and chunky, this does not mean that your tyres are safe to drive on. Tyres – even if they are not used – have a limited shelf life. Rubber breaks down naturally. You don’t need to damage your tyres by driving on them to own dangerous tyres.

Most tyre manufacturers recommend that you change your tyres at least every five years, irrespective of whether they have suffered wear and tear. (Learn how to tell the age of your tyres in our article “How do you know how old your tyres are and if they need replacing?”).

It’s not only age that can affect your tyres. Exposure to sunlight, heat, chemicals and fuel also affect a tyre’s useful life.

How do you buy tyres and make sure you get value for money?

The saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ usually applies when you buy tyres. However, if you are on a budget you may need to compromise on factors such as quality, warranty, tread, and so on. At our Darra Tyres shop, you’ll find qualified and highly experienced technicians on hand to help you make the best choice. We’ll ask you about your driving style, use, mileage, and the types of road you usually drive on. We’ll talk you through the different tyres available in your price range, explaining the pros and cons of each.

With Darra Tyres, you can be sure that you receive value for money at prices you can afford.

For all your tyre needs, contact Darra Tyres.

Keeping your family and fleet safe on the road,

Dean Wood

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