G’day, Chris here again.
Getting tired of getting tyred? If you want to get the maximum life out of your tyres, here’s a few tips to consider.
Firstly, this isn’t about choice of tyre brand, size, construction or tread pattern. Just about longevity.
People choose tyres for all sorts of reasons, and it is ultimately a personal choice. There are ‘low-cost’ tyres for the budget conscious, highway terrain for the long distance tourers looking for less noise, the all-terrains for the occasional off-road work, and more aggressive patterns for that trip to the Cape and back. Each brand will look to impress you why theirs is the best option.
I have my own preference, but that is of little consequence to someone whose travel style is different to my own.
But what we all seek is the maximum life expectancy to minimise the cost of keeping fresh rubber under-foot. And there is one simple word to achieve maximum tyre life. Maintenance. No different to your engine, trans, or wiper blades, they all need attention as some stage, and the more the better.
As well as rotation of your tyre positions, the other crucial aspect of tyre maintenance is monitoring and managing pressures. Some people may have heard of a 4psi rule, something bandied about a lot but is purely a guide only. When a tyre is around its most appropriate pressure for the conditions and load, etc, they will rise in pressure by around 4psi from cold to running temperature. As the body of the tyre flexes and moves whilst rotating it creates heat as much as road friction does, and this causes internal temperatures to rise and pressure with it. Excess heat can damage a tyre or even cause a blow-out unexpectedly. If the tyre heats up far in excess of 4psi, the pressure is too low for the conditions and load.
Most of the 4WD fraternity would also be aware about lowering tyre pressures for sand driving or bush tracks. Why, because it changes the shape and profile of the tyre on the ground. You can use this same trick to your advantage for tyre life as well. When you run a tyre at maximum pressure, the tyre is running at the centre of the tread pattern, and an over-inflated tyre will quickly show this occurring. Great for fuel economy perhaps, but a harsher ride and the belts will show in no time. An under-inflated tyre will wear at the edges quickly. The object is to vary the tyre pressure regularly so that you are moving that wear pattern across the face of the tyre constantly and retaining a more even wear rate across the whole tyre. This also improves surface grip, extends tyre life, and avoids poor wear patterns developing at any point in the tyre face.
One of the simplest and best investments to make is a tyre pressure monitoring device. There are a number of brands and options on the market. I personally run the Tyredog having tried a few others and been dismayed. Even the Tyredog has its weak point in that the ‘extra’ relay aerial device doesn’t cope well with high heat and can be unreliable in desert environments, but otherwise the system is the better ones around.
But which-ever you choose, monitor your pressure and temperatures, and vary both. Obviously keeping loads and environments in mind, as these take preference over ‘wear rate settings’, but you might run your tyres for a while at 33psi, then up to 40psi, change next time to 36psi. Keep a note of pressures, dates and mileage on your logbook or notepad in your vehicle. Move the pressures around, ensure the tyres are not getting too hot for the conditions, and watch how many more miles you will get from the same set of tyres.
A little maintenance and monitoring can save you hundreds of dollars.
See you Outback. Chris
P.S. Yes I know we live in a metric world, but the use of the imperial terms is simpler in this case.
Chris Blakemore is Owner of FNB4WD in Mt. Barker, Sth Australia