While a quality van, car or lorry can comfortably run for several decades before needing to be replaced, the same cannot be said for the tyres upon which it’ll rely. To do their job, tyres need to be made from rubber – a small portion of which will rub off on the road with every rotation. This wear means that tyres will need to be occasionally replaced.
What do treads do?
With the notable exception of F1 cars, tyres are covered with small channels called treads. These channels allow rainwater to drain from between the tyre and the road, allowing your van to maintain grip even when the road is slippery. As your tyres wear down, these channels will become shallower, and thus less capable of squeezing away water during wet conditions.
How can I tell when the tyres need replacing?
In the UK, the legal limit for tread depth is 1.6mm. Certain manufacturers, like Michelin, imprint narrow bridges into their treads so that you can see exactly when this occurs. If the surface of the tyre is level with the bridge, it’s time to get a replacement. You might also employ a set of callipers, or take the edge of a 20p piece and squeeze it into the tread.
Bear in mind that the legal limit for your tyres is a minimum. You’ll start to suffer a loss of performance, and begin to feel the cost in terms of fuel efficiency and grip, before you’re actually legally required to make the switch. Factor in the cost of grip-related collisions (however minor) and you’ve a good reason to swap your tyres sooner rather than later.
How can I extend my tyres’ lifespan?
Changing four tyres is a considerable expense for most businesses. If you’re driving the van, it’s worth adopting a few simple practices that’ll limit wear-and-tear and help you squeeze maximum usage from every set you install.
The more you brake, the more friction in the tyres. It’s friction, after all, that brings the vehicle to a halt. The same is true of rapid acceleration and sudden changes of direction. Just think about the sort of driving that leaves tyre-marks strewn across the surface of the road, and then do the exact opposite of that.
What if my tyre is not wearing consistently?
Ideally, you’ll want every part of your tyre to be equally worn. This means that the maximum surface area is in contact with the road. However, this isn’t always the case. If one side of the tyre is worn, then the chances are that your suspension is not aligned properly. If you’re getting wear in the centre but not the sides, then the tyre is likely overinflated. If you’re not getting any wear in the centre, the chances are that it’s under-inflated.
By paying close attention to your tyres, you’ll be able to run your van that much more efficiently – and safely. Give them some love and the rewards can be considerable!