It’s worth thinking about your tyres whilst in lockdown as the time allows you to check them in terms of overall condition – looking at wear, tread depth, condition of the sidewalls for any cuts or damage, as well as maintaining tyre pressure. It is good practice to take your car for a run as regularly as you can and check the pressure when you fill-up.
I have noticed an appalling lack of road maintenance during lockdown so watch for ditches, un-repaired roadworks, as well as potholes that could damage a tyre or pinch a tyre necessitating a costly replacement.
Bear in mind as well that the tyres that come standard with your vehicle are chosen to give fuel economy, reduce road noise andkeep the cost of your vehicle comparable to an opposition product. So, for specialised touring, you may wish to replace the original rubber with an All-Terrain tyre.
What many people fail to realise is the importance of your rubber. It is the only part of your vehicle in contact with the road surface and as such is key to the performance of your vehicle in terms of ride and handling, road comfort, noise vibration and harshness as well as tractability and braking.
Tyres need to grip correctly otherwise areas such as power delivery, all-wheel drive and so on may be compromised. And if you want good off-road performance from your vehicle there is no sense in expecting that from the road tyre fitted as standard when you buy your 4×4. One should always consider load and speed ratings when choosing tyres, given that most 4x4s can travel at speeds over 160km/h fully laden even though we have a 120km/h speed limit to adhere to. Remember to replace tyres on time before they wear out and fail.
Given our road conditions, tyres are by far the most frequently and easily damaged component of your vehicle. And yes, it is possible to get more than one puncture on a trip and you generally carry a single spare. It’s wise to always carry a portable compressor, a tyre repair kit, as well as one or two cans of tyre repair sealant. In many cases this is all that you will need to get you to a garage where you can have the tyre repaired. This also helps in the eventuality that you get stuck kilometres from the nearest garage or service station, as it will allow you to capably deal with the most common thing likely to go wrong on your trip.
Additional items we also suggest that you carry are the following:
- A sturdy pair of leather gloves which will protect your hands as well as keeping them clean.
- A jacking base – we use a 30cm section of an old roof truss. This gives a stable base for the jack and also helps if you are stuck in sand as it stops the jack from digging in.
- A small spade – always useful in any recovery situation that requires digging as one may have to move loose sand or even level hard ground for the jack.
- A tyre pressure gauge for checking the pressure of the spare tyre (often neglected at a service station) or a repaired tyre.
Then one should know where your jack and tools are and if travelling with a fully laden vehicle rather remove the jack and jack handle and put it in an accessible place as this will mean that you will not have to unpack your vehicle to get to the jack (this is particularly relevant if you are travelling with a station wagon type SUV where the jack is under the load area floor).
Lastly, understand how your jack works and know where the reinforced jacking points are – they are generally detailed in the owner’s manual. This is important as we have seen numerous cases where underbody damage has been caused by an incorrectly positioned jack. If you are still in lockdown mode use the time well, sort through your kit and pack an emergency kit that will enable you to handle a tyre failure as well as any other emergency. It’s all good packing for a cross border trip where you use a checklist and take everything bar the kitchen sink. But never neglect the basics, as you could experience a failure on a short weekend away and will curse if you have neglected the simple necessities.