ROAD SAFETY ARTICLE
If you run a check on you tyre pressures now with a quality tyre pressure gauge (not the abused/ overused road side vulcanizers gauge), you will appreciate why the above alarm is sounded. Such a check may reveal that at least one of your tyres is incorrectly inflated. Very few vehicles, if any, will pass this test. Incorrect tyre pressure is the No. 1 cause of tyre blow-outs, sudden tyre failures and premature tyre wear. Incorrect tyre pressure is an invitation to disaster even if the tyres are brand new! It is a time bomb waiting for the right time to explode. The implication is that each time such a vehicle is driving; the occupants are facing grave danger without being aware of it. As the hours count down to this year’s festivities which as usual has witnessed increased motorization in keeping with our penchant for travels, I wish to run my last piece on tyres for 2017 hoping the few tips contained in this piece will help us make the right safety choices ahead of the cross over into 2018 by the mercies of the Almighty God. I humbly urge you not to ignore the tips as it reminds me of a recall a recent crash caused by tyre blowout which claimed the life of an officer who was part of a convoy conveying the corpse of his late father.
Types of incorrect tyre inflation
There are two types of incorrect tyre pressure. These are over inflation and under inflation. Let us take a look at how they can affect your tyres and cause disaster and what could be done to maintain a proper pressure for your tyres and so prevent or drastically minimize blowout and other forms of tyre failures.
Blowouts; under-inflation is the cause
Under-inflation is the major cause of tyre blowouts. When a tyre is under inflated, it increases what is known as the ROLLING RESISTANCE (RR) as the vehicles move. RR generates a tremendous amount of heat that could make your tyre explode like a bomb. Such an explosion (blowout) will destabilize the balance leading to a crash and disaster.
Other types of tyre failures; over inflation is the cause
When over inflated, a tyre becomes stiff. This can make it puncture easily. The internal materials used in making the tyre are also subjected to undue strain. This would make them snap, leading to bulges or swells. As the tyre hits a pot hole or bumps, it can easily cut and have a sudden deflation that could cause a crash. Over-inflation also leads to partial contact of the tyres with road surface. This reduces traction and can easily lead to loss of control when one is on high speed, wet surface, cornering or breaking. Each of these conditions can easily lead to a crash and disaster.
There are two very effective options to prevention or drastic reduction of blowouts and other form of tyre failures.
Option 1: own a quality tyre pressure gauge. As already pointed out, incorrect tyre pressure is the major cause of blowouts and sudden tyre failure. So, correct tyre pressure is a must for any safety conscious motorist. But the big question is, how do you ensure that what the vulcanizer pumped into your tyre is the correct pressure? Only a quality tyre pressure gauge will tell you. A quality gauge will also enable you to gauge your tyres at the right time and to ensure that all the tyres maintain correct pressure before the vehicle is driven out for the day. This is particularly important if you are in the transport business or if you are travelling. Never rely on the road side vulcanizers’ gauge. Most of their gauges are outright inferior, have been over used or abused over time and may have improper measuring units. In fairness to the vulcanizers, however, they may not be aware of these shortcomings with their gauges.
Option 2: install a high profile automatic tyre monitors. This is a state of the art device that use sensors and a wireless monitor to monitor your tyres on a 24hours basis. It alerts the driver well in advance about an impending tyre blowout or failure. It pinpoints the exact tyre so that the driver will take appropriate measure to deal with the situation. It also effectively takes care of premature tyre wear.
What is your vehicle’s correct tyre pressure?
By the end of the driver’s door of your vehicle, or in the vehicles’ manual, you will see specification that shows size of tyre for your vehicle and the inflation pressure for the tyre in psi (pounds per square inch) religiously stick to that specification. Do not allow anyone (especially the vulcanizer) tell you otherwise unless you want to gamble with your life. It is instructive to note here that it is not the tyre manufacturer that determines the pressure for your tyre, but the vehicle manufacturer. It is the vehicle manufacturer that specifies the size of tyres and the pressure to be given the tyre. He has taken into consideration the weight, speed, number of passenger, artificial inflation by the heat and other factors to determine what the proper inflation pressure should be. The specification you see on the tyres are to enable you match the specification of the vehicles’ manufacturer. In this light, it is equally dangerous to use tyre sizes different from what the vehicles manufacturer specified for the vehicle.
Gauge and pump tyres at the right time
The right time to gauge /pump is when the tyres are cold. Mornings are most ideal. Before you drive out, gauge the tyres and if there is need to pump, slowly drive to the nearest vulcanizer. If you are the type that leaves home very early, weekends maybe the most convenient time for you. When hot, the tyre pressure increases. Any action (gauge, pump) you take when the tyres are hot will be misleading and could be fatal. On fortunately, most people gauge and pump tyres when the tyres are hot. Never do so. If tyresare hot, leave them for about 3hours to cool down.