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How to do a five-point tyre safety check

Tyre manufacturers advise professional drivers to perform a five-point tyre safety check between every trip, and at refuelling.

The SA Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC) CEO Dr Etienne Human, said optimum tyre performance, lifespan and safety, required regular checks on pressure, tread depth, valves, damage, and wheel nuts.

Tyre pressure risks

Low pressure shortens the lifespan of tyres, and could cause premature tyre failure due to excessive flexing on the sidewalls and generating unnaturally high internal heat that will break the side wall of the tyre.

Similarly, tyres respond to overloading in the same manner as it would to under inflation, which means that the combination of under inflation and overloading could be lethal.

Tyre tread risks

Worn tyres with a below regulatory tread depth could cause loss of traction and stability, prevent vehicles from responding to steering and road holding, especially in wet weather. This will ultimately cause extreme drifting, where the vehicle could spin out of control.

To reduce the risk of sliding across the road, check tread depth on tyres and replace well before they reach regulatory minimum depth of 1.00 mm. Tread wear indicators in the grooves of the tyres are a quick way of checking the tread depth.

Tyre valves caps risk

Missing valve caps could cause clogging of the valves and unnatural loss of tyre air pressure, which will have the same effect as under inflated tyres. Fit good valve caps. Replace valves with new ones when fitting new tyres, as the old ones become brittle and leak or can break off with a sudden loss of air occurs, which could cause an accident.

Tyre damage risks

Any damage on tyres could cause tyre failure, including punctures, smooth tyre tread, cuts and bulges. Although some damage to tyres can be fixed, no repairs can be done to the sidewall of a tyre.

Ary Coetzee, chairperson of the SATMC Technical Committee advises that; “using a quick spaghetti type repair to seal a penetrated tyre is temporary and should be replaced with a proper mushroom type repair,  where the tyre is removed, inspected and properly repaired as soon as possible. The spaghetti repair is a temporary solution; merely to assist you get to the tyre dealer for a proper repair.”

Wheel nut risks

Reduce the risk of wheels coming off by a regular tyre safety check for loose or missing wheel nuts. Fit the correct wheel nuts and do not mix types of nuts.

Dieter Horni, Chairperson of the SATMC says, “It is vital to fit radial commercial type tyres to passenger vehicles, such as 205R15C. As far as possible fit locally made tyres designed for South African road conditions.

“Wheel alignment and good shock absorbers extend the life and safety of tyres and the people on board a taxi and other road users. Have your tyres checked regularly by an expert, regardless of how old they are.”

Public transport risks

The least tyre risk aware group of road users, appear to be minibus taxi drivers and owners, who account for twice the rate of road crashes of other passenger vehicles.

According to road safety statistics gathered by the Automobile Association of South Africa, an annual total of 70 000 minibus taxi crashes were recorded, which indicates that taxis in SA amount for double the rate of crashes than all other passenger vehicles.

Tyre industry organisation

South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC) represents all four companies, which operate six tyre manufacturing factories in South Africa, including Apollo (formerly Dunlop), Bridgestone, Continental and Goodyear.

SATMC aims to inform government, tyre dealers, drivers, the public, and workplace safety reps about the importance of a regular tyre safety check.

Road accidents are the second-leading cause of unnatural deaths in South Africa, and taxis operate under more severe conditions than passenger cars.

“Worn brakes are typically flagged as the main area of concern to monitor and maintain, however tyres also play a vital role in the control, management and braking of any vehicle,” Human said.

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