Normally, when people replace their tyres, they simply go a service centre and the technicians handle the rest. There are, however, some things everyone should know about their tyres, to not only get the longest life out of them but to also maintain your tyres to keep you safe. *File photo
Normally, when people replace their tyres, they simply go a service centre and the technicians handle the rest. There are, however, some things everyone should know about their tyres, to not only get the longest life out of them but to also maintain your tyres to keep you safe. *File photo

WEDNESDAY, MAY 23: Along with the brakes and suspension, your tyres are the biggest safety feature on your vehicle.

Yet when it comes to replacing them, most people have no idea what to look for.

After all, tyres aren’t really something for which people traditionally shop.

Normally, when people replace their tyres, they simply go a service centre and the technicians handle the rest.

There are, however, some things everyone should know about their tyres, to not only get the longest life out of them but to also maintain your tyres to keep you safe.

Firstly, know how to read the tyre sidewall. While the sidewall may look like a jumble of numbers and letters, it’s actually the key to everything you need to know about your tyre.

The most important information on the sidewall is the tyre type code. This contains the born-on date, or the age of the tyre.

The last four numbers in the oval represent the week and the year the tyre was manufactured.

So if the number was “2811” then the tyre would have been manufactured the 28th week of 2011. Why is this important?

A tyre is made of rubber compound consisting of the rubber itself and the filler, such as carbon black or silica and other chemicals. These materials and chemicals break down over time.

In fact, a tyre has about a five-year shelf life before it becomes compromised and potentially unsafe.

So, when purchasing new tyres, always look at the born-on date to make sure the tyre is not more than five years old. Also, make sure your spare tyre is under five years old.

Another important marking on the sidewall is the tyre size designation.

This set of numbers will tell you the width of the tyre in millimetres, the height of the sidewall and rim diameter. For example, this is information you can provide to the service centre before you go in to ensure they have the size tyre you need in stock.

The sidewall also has a tyre pressure marking, which is a number measured in PSI. This is the maximum pressure for the tyre.

Having the correct air pressure in your tyres is crucial in maintaining their life and performance.

Since Bermuda is a unique driving environment without highways, it is recommended that most non-commercial vehicles stay at around 35-40 PSI.

You should check your tyre pressure every four to six weeks and make sure to check the pressure when the tyres are cold as heat makes the air inside expand and give an unreliable reading.

Ensure a reliable and accurate pressure gauge is used and check the pressure in all four tyres, as well as the spare.

While checking pressures, give the rest of the tyre a visual inspection. Remove any stones and other objects embedded in the tread. Look out for any bulges, lumps or cuts.

The sidewall also contains triangles that serve as arrows pointing to the wear bar in the tyre tread. The wear bar is an indicator to help warn drivers that their tyres no longer meet minimum tread depth requirements, which is 1.6mm.

If you are unsure on any aspect of tyre pressure or tyre condition take your vehicle to an approved fitting centre and speak to the experts.

The tyres hold your vehicle to the road so you want to make sure they are up to the challenge of protecting you and your family when you are driving.

Eugene Botelho is the president of Bermuda Tire Co Ltd. For more info call  295-3444.