By Hazlinda Hamzah
Bald tyres are tyres which have been so worn down that they have almost no tread. Since tread is what helps tyres grip
the road’s surface, bald tyres can be extremely dangerous.
Bald tyres are called this because the tyre tread – which helps the driver of a vehicle stop quickly in an emergency – has been worn down to an unacceptable level.
Ideally, before going on a long journey in this festive Season, tyres should be replaced before they are truly bald to maintain optimal safety.
In the excitement of returning to a hometown to celebrate Hari Raya, a Driver, as well as passengers in a vehicle, should be aware of whether the vehicle is roadworthy.
This includes checking the condition that the tyres of the vehicle are in to assure that the tyres have sufficient treads within the ‘safety level’.
There are several brands of car tyres on the market. Among them are Goodyear, Bridgestone, Michelin, Silverstone and Sime Tyres.
“I opt for tyres that have treads that can grip the road surface better in emergencies for my continental-made car, which is heavier when compared to other cars. As for my Proton Wira car which is lighter, I opt for China-made tyres,” said Zainal Mohd Tirmizi, an executive with Maxis Berhad, when approached at a car service centre in Petaling Jaya.
Zainal, 40, said he places importance on the reliability of car tyres for the safety of his family.
Koo Wai Jin, a mechanic at Benzone Auto Care Sdn Bhd in Petaling Jaya, said the tyres of a four-wheel vehicle should be ‘balanced’ to ensure the car’s safety while traveling on the road.
Therefore, the owner should bring his car to a tyre centre for ‘balancing and alignment’ of the car tyres.
“Ideally, the rear and front tyres should be alternated every three months. This is to make sure that the tyres last longer. The tyre pressure should also be well maintained,” said Koo.
Koo recommends tyre pressure between 27 and 28 PSI for vehicles with four tyres.
He said if the vehicle is heavier, then the tyre needs more pressure. Information on optimum tyre pressure is found in the booklet provided by the car maker.
Koo advises drivers to regularly check tyre pressure.
“I check the tyre pressure once a month. The more frequent the car is on the road, the more frequent the tyre pressure needs checking,” said Zainal.
What about women drivers?
There are many women drivers on the road these days and they have managed to maintain their cars and tyres without assistance from the opposite gender.
“My mechanic advises me to add three or four more PSI units than the normal pressure when pumping air into the tyres after the tyres get hot from many hours on the road due to a long drive.
“If the tyre is low in pressure, then it will cause damage to the tyre rim. If the tyre is under normal pressure, then the brakes will not function well,” said Hazirah Abdul Rahman, who has been a driver with a ‘P’ (probationary) licence for one year.
Price of tyres
Is the price of a car tyre expensive?
According to Sit Chee Wei of Kim Heng Tyre Service in Subang Jaya near here, the price of tyres is relatively consistent.
Even if there is a hike in tyre prices, the increase is not drastic and remains affordable.
Chee Wei has been in the tyre business since he was 15 years old.
“More customers come to us on the weekend, either to have their tyres checked or changed.
“Many of our customers come to the shop regularly for tyre inspection. When a festival approaches, more customers will come for their vehicles to be checked before they return to their respective hometowns,” he said.
“We do not sell retreaded tyres, as the cost to retread is quite high. A retread may cost RM75-RM80 each. Many people consider it is better to get a new tyre, rather than a retread,” said Chee Wei.
A retread, or “recap,” is a previously-worn tyre which has gone through a remanufacturing process designed to extend its useful service life. A retreaded tyre is significantly cheaper than a new tyre.
“We do sell used tyres, though there are not many in stock. We only have them because a customer wants to purchase new ones. Then he will ‘trade-in’ the tyres on his car,” said Chee Wei’s sister Sit Sok Fong.
However, retreads are popular among owners of heavy vehicles like lorries since the price of new tyres for a lorry can reach as high as thousands of Ringgit.
Sok Fong also advises car owners to alternate the position of their tyres every 10,000 kilometres.
The following are important tips for car drivers concerning their tyres.
- Ensure that your car tyres have sufficient pressure, according to the recommended PSI scale.
- Check tyre pressure when the tyres are ‘cold,’ instead of being hot, after a long journey.
- Check tyre pressure every two weeks. Also, ensure the cap of the tyre valve is secure after pumping air into the tyre.
- Tyres under the recommended pressure will under-perform and makes vehicles consume more petrol.
- Conduct regular physical inspections of tyres.
- Lumps that appear on tyre surfaces indicate the tyre has faults in its inner surface and must be replaced.
- Tyres that have cracks or fissures on their surface should be changed.
The condition of tyres are vital for the vehicle to be roadworthy. Hence, it is important for a driver to ensure that tyres are in good condition before joining the ‘balik kampung’ exodus home during this festive season.