Bad Tires Inflate Crash Risk: Our Guide to Tire Safety
Have you ever noticed scraps of rubber strewn across a highway culminating in the gruesome site of a wrecked vehicle with shreds around a rim where a tire should be?
Tired tires (or tyres, if you’re a stickler for the Queen’s English) can take your life, especially if they aren’t up to spec. This is particularly true when tarmac temperatures hit the 50s, as they are wont to do in the extremes of Middle Eastern summers. And when the rubber hits the road, tread temperatures can quickly go up to between 80 and 100 degrees Celsius, putting you at risk of a life-threatening blow-out.
Because heat is the biggest enemy of rubber, it is important to take a close look at the tires of a rental before you drive it out of the lot in summer. While the UAE’s Roads and Transport Authority, or RTA, does its bit by testing key components such as tires and brakes during its annual vehicle registration process, reputed rental companies like Carlease will ensure that the vehicle they give you has been serviced and checked thoroughly for safety and reliability prior to each handover. This includes the tires.
However, it never hurts to do a quick check yourself. These are the things you need to know about tires in summer:
These are the grooves in the surface of the tire where it meets the road. Make sure these are deep enough (the legal minimum is 2mm, while wheels below 3mm should be monitored weekly) to ensure safe driving in ultra-hot weather. Most car tires have a tread that is 7mm to 8mm deep. This gives the tire a life of about 80,000 kilometers. As tread wears down with use, each loss of 1mm decreases tire life by 10,000 kilometers. In normal driving (we are discounting drifting and doing donuts here!) tread wear is accelerated when temperatures increase, or when wheel balance is out of whack.
Depending on the quality of the tire and its use, sidewalls can develop cracks after two to three years from the manufacturing date of the tire. Tiny ones may not be dangerous, but if you notice cracks that have or are on the verge of going through the wall, ask for a change – of tires or car.
In high-temperature conditions, prudent drivers will usually be wary about using tires that are more than three years old. The manufacturing date is stamped on the sidewall of every tire. If the tire is more than three years old, check tread wear and sidewall conditions before you decide to ask for a replacement.
Balance and alignment:
True-running tires increase the safety margin. If a short drive reveals unusual wheel noises, drift, or steering wobble, the tires may not be balanced and aligned properly. Besides making the car difficult to drive, this also puts added pressure on the tires and could result in hairy moments on the open road.
Ensure that the spare tire, or stepney, is inflated to the right pressure and is in good shape.
On the Road
Apart from the visual and driving checks you perform before you accept a rental, there are a couple of things you need to ensure yourself as the driver:
It is tempting to take a rental straight off the lot into a gas station to add some air to the tires. We all believe that slightly over-inflated rubber will decrease the amount of fuel the car uses. Resist that temptation! Tires inflated to an unrated pressure will not only affect the overall performance of the vehicle – including braking distance, handling, safety, and fuel consumption – but also leave less room for natural inflation due to high ambient temperatures leading to unsafe conditions.
Each car (and tire) is rated for the maximum load it can carry, based on the specifications of multiple parts such as engine, suspension, etc. Make sure you don’t overload your vehicle. If you know you’re going to carry heavy loads, shell out for a larger car. This is especially true in high-temperature operations.
Tempting though it may be to skim the speed limit of a highway or even surpass it, resist. The faster you go, the more pressure you put on your rubbers, and this could be dangerous.
In addition to choosing a reputable car rental company like Carlease, it is critical that you inspect and consider each of these factors before you accept your rental. If you are ever in doubt, feel free to speak to the Carlease agent conducting the handover who will be happy to provide you with a tread-depth gauge or an air pressure gauge. Alternately, reach out to the Carlease Operations team, who will be more than happy to have your car checked by one of our mechanics.
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