Also Read - Jeep Wrangler Polar Edition is seriously cool
The tyres are what keep your car in contact with the road, and if even one of them fails, your car will not be able to go on performing its duties. You should therefore pay more attention to those four pieces of rubber, they contribute a lot to your driving experience. The monsoon is especially hard on them, because they’re going through bad patches of road more often than not. In this article we’ll give you a short overview on how to prepare your tyres for the monsoons. Also Read - Suzuki-powered Caterham Seven 160 offers old school thrills
Also Read - BMW X4 to debut at Detroit Motor Show in January next year
1. Look at them
No, we aren’t yanking your chain. Have a nice, close look at them. Spot any cracks or cuts? If yes, and they’re deep, you need new tyres. Turn the front wheels all the way to one side and inspect the tread. Is either side worn out more than the other? If yes, you’ve got a problem with your alignment or your suspension. Get it checked, else you’ll need to replace the tyre sooner than you need to. Check the tread depth – see how deep the grooves are by inserting an old one rupee coin into them. If you can read the words ‘ek rupiyah’ clearly, then you don’t have enough tread to drive safely in the monsoons. We’ve got an explanation at the bottom for you.
2. Check your tyre pressure
The person filling air at the petrol pump doesn’t know off the top off his head what the recommended pressure for each car is, so go through your owner’s manual and remember what the recommended pressures are. They are usually also put on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door or the inside of the fuel filler flap. It might also be a good idea to have your own pressure gauge, as the ones at the petrol pump are usually inaccurate.
3. Carry a puncture repair kit along
This can differ for tyres with tubes and tubeless tyres, but fixing a puncture is easier than you think. Carry along an electric pump that runs off the cigarette lighter socket. Even a bicycle pump with the attachment that fits motorcycle and car tyre valves will do the job. A pair of pliers will be useful to pull any nails out of the tyre.
4. Install puncture sealant
Products like Slime or Ride-On prevent loss of air in case a foreign body pierces the tyre. This can be a valuable addition to your protection, as those who have changed to their spare on a rainy night on the highway will testify.
Why you need deep grooves in your tyres?
Notice how racing cars have no grooves on them? That’s because the slick tyres have maximum rubber in contact with the road, which means more grip. How come regular tyres have ‘designs’ on them, then? Don’t we also require maximum grip?
The grooves in your tyres are there for a very simple reason – to channel water from under the tyre so that it remains in touch with the road. Ever skipped stones across a pond? Ever wondered why drops of water form? Or maybe you’ve watched the Jesus lizard on the Discovery Channel. Whatever the case may be, the answer is the same: surface tension. The surface of water has a little extra ‘force’ to it, which is why if you get a dive wrong and slap the surface of the water, it feels like you jumped onto the pool bed. This same surface tension will not let your tyre go through the surface of the water easily and grip the road.
Without the grooves you’ll be like the skipping stone or an ice skater – you’ll simply keep going in the direction you were going last when you got to the patch of water because you won’t be in contact with the road itself. This is called ‘aquaplaning’ or ‘hydroplaning’, because you’re sliding along the surface of the water. The grooves help drain the water by providing channels for it to flow, which is why they need to be at least 2mm deep. Any less and they won’t be able to drain the water in time to be effective. Even with the best wet-weather tyres, going through water at more than 70kph is asking for trouble. This applies even if you’ve got an expensive car with all possible acronyms to keep you safe.
In the wet, the best approach is to slow right down and watch the vehicle in front make it through. It usually is the safest way through the water. If there’s no one in sight, go carefully – where’s there’s water there usually are potholes. In all probability you won’t be able to see the road itself below the water, and who knows how deep the potholes might be.
Keeping your tyres in good condition will reduce the chances of the breakdowns that are commonly associated with the advent of the monsoon, so make sure you inspect your tyres at the first opportunity!