How safe are your car tyres?

 

Tire showing wear in its sidewall (down to the...

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THERE is more to be done to ensure tyre safety than just the “kick test”. Find out when your tyre was manufactured. If you don’t know where to look, check the tyre sidewall. The date of manufacture for every vehicle tyre is stamped on its side. Most tyres come with a three-year warranty at the very least. The warranty period usually commences from the date of manufacture, and not from the date it was purchased and fitted on your vehicle.

 

“Over time, the elasticity of the rubber in tyres diminishes, and tyres will harden or suffer from cracks which can, at times, be hidden from the naked eye,” he says.

“These conditions can result in dangerous blowouts when the vehicle is being driven, especially at high speeds and when the tyre is under extremely high temperature and load. With age, tyres that become stiffer also have reduced traction and handling performance.”

A spokesperson from Bridgestone Malaysia clarifies further.

“A tyre will deteriorate as it is a rubber compound. In the factory, it has been cured (vulcanised) to optimum condition. But if you put tyres in ambient temperature, it will continue to cure, but at a very slow rate,” he says.

He informs that for optimal storage, new and unused tyres should be kept out of direct sunlight, not be in contact with chemicals such as petrol, and away from electric generators (which also produce ozone).

The AAM further explains that heat and light cause oxidation which can potentially damage the inside of the tyre, resulting in leaks. Tyres must not be left on oily floors, and even dirt and water can harm tyres.

Once the tyres are on the road, they only last for up to three years – depending on the manner of driving, distance travelled, load, type of terrain or quality of roads used.”

A common practice among heavy vehicle owners/ drivers in Malaysia is to use retreaded tyres. This is where a new outer lining is fitted on an old tyre (tread pattern has worn out), giving it a new tread pattern and allowing it to be re-used.

Bridgestone says tyre retreading is a common practice for heavy vehicles (such as cargo and dump trucks), and that approximately 50% of their tyres are retreads.

Malaysia is also one of the most advanced in the region for retreading tyres, says the Bridgestone spokesperson.

“We retread all sorts of tyres, from consumer to off-road tyres.”

However, consumer retreads are not commonly used in Malaysia and they are made mainly for export, he adds.

Retreaded tyres are not only more economical but they are also better for the environment, he explains.

“Once a tyre has worn out, and if the casing is still in good condition, it can be retreaded multiple times – depending on the quality of the retread and the casing,” he says.

Both the RSD and Miros agree that retreads are generally safe for use as they have to adhere to strict standards – either the Sirim MS 224:2005 or UN ECE R108 specification.

“The main issues on tyres which concern the Road Safety Depart­ment are sub-standard (such as snow tyres) and regrooved tyres,” says Suret.

Regrooved tyres are illegal in Malaysia and motorists caught using them face a fine of up to RM300.

Regrooving is the process of cutting new, deeper grooves into a tyre to extend its life, says Prof Ahmad Farhan.

“Not all tyres can be regrooved, resulting in many inappropriate – and possibly dangerous – tyres being put onto the road. There is an increase in potential for failure after the regroove process.”

Manual regrooving, he points out, can produce depth inconsistencies – a groove cut that is too deep will expose the top belt resulting in corrosion and finally tyre failure. This can also cause early breakdown of the undertread protective rubber gauge.

Read more_The Stars, How safe are your car tyres? By JOSEPH LOH

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