AutoTrader advises on what to look for and how to ensure you stay insured
When it comes to safety features on a car, the tyre is probably the biggest unsung hero, especially when you consider that your tyres are the only point of contact between your car and the road. They grip, steer, power and brake. They essentially enable you to get from A to B safely. When it comes to tyres markings, lifespan and what your insurance does and doesn’t cover - what does the average person know about them?
‘’On each tyre sidewall you will see numerical markings. While they are extremely challenging to decipher at first, once you understand what they mean you’ll realise that each tyre has a life story’’ explains Ané Theron motoring journalist from AutoTrader.
The numerical markings indicate the height to width ratio, the maximum load that can be carried at the car’s given speed rating, its composition, traction rating and most importantly when it was made
In South Africa, you have to change your tyres every 5 years regardless of condition. However should you use your vehicle regularly over those 5 years, the tread on your tyre could wear out much faster.
According to Short Term Insurance specialist Dean Wicks from The Robert Group, maintaining tyre condition is the sole responsibility of the vehicle owner. “If your vehicle has a blow-out or is involved in an accident and they have a tyre tread count of less than 1mm, your insurance company has the right to reject the claim due to the tyres being illegal.’’
‘’All tyres have tread indicators, but these can generally only be seen on the surface of the tyre after the tyre tread has already reached its limit” explains Theron. ‘It’s therefore advised that tyres are checked once a month especially before or after a long distance journey. It is also important to keep in mind that some cars, especially the luxury vehicles, require you use their branded tyres in order to keep the warranty’’.
If you are unsure how old your tyres are, here’s a tip: the final four digits on the numerical markings indicate the week and year of manufacture. It is expressed as a four-digit code in a week/year format. For example, “1315” would mean that the tyre was produced in the 13th week of 2015.