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What are the tyres/what do they do?

A tyre is circular in shape and made up of a core of wires and cords, surrounded by an outer rubber tread which is inflated with compressed air. A car wheel is composed of a solid inner which is welded on to an outer rim. The tyre complete set fit on to the wheel rim of each wheel, covering and protecting the rim, while providing a vital cushioned structure to make contact with the surface of the road.

The tyres are a crucial part of your car. Fitting the right tyres on the right wheels for your car is important; they play a big part in how safe the car is while moving and how well the car handles on the road, affecting the performance and general efficiency of the car.

Getting into the details of the tyres

There are many different types and sizes of tyres, to suit different terrain and weather conditions, as well as different vehicle types. It's vital that the tyres on your car are of good quality, in excellent condition, with no defects, and a correct fit to the wheel rim for safety reasons and for your car to be considered fit for purpose and legally road worthy. Fitting the right size tyre and getting a tyre with the right tread is crucial in terms of road safety and handling. The tread on a tyre is important; this is the part of the tyre that touches the road surface as you're driving along and the tread should be of a certain depth in order to be considered road worthy. It's not safe to drive a vehicle with tyres that have significantly worn tread. The depth of tread required will depend on the type of vehicle you drive. Advice on all the requirements relating to the tyres on your specific vehicle can be found in the car owner's manual handbook.

The tyres you fit on a vehicle should all be compatible to ensure the tyres perform uniformly and safely.  It's important to regularly check the tyres, ensuring you are familiar with when a tyre needs to be changed or inflated/deflated, or book your car in with a mechanic who can do this for you. Underinflation of a tyre can cause the outer tread to wear down and can cause the inner tube to deteriorate. Overinflation can add too much pressure to the centre tread on the tyre, causing the tread to impact the road with too much force, which ultimately leads to a flat tyre. It's dangerous and also illegal to drive a car with tyres that are not inflated to the car and tyre manufacturer's specified safe level.

Tyres should be able to grip the road surface well and stop the car from slipping and sliding. A good tyre will provide a good grip; smooth balance; produce minimal road noise; perform well on the road surface; handle well in both dry and wet conditions; disperse water with ease; have a good rolling resistance, which assists with overall fuel efficiency; be able to stop the car quickly and safely when the brakes are applied; and ultimately ensure a safe drive.

Wheel alignment and wheel balancing can vastly improve the life and performance of the tyres you fit on your car. Having properly aligned wheels produces a car that handles better on the road and can significantly improve fuel efficiency while ensuring the tyres on your car last as long as possible. Wheel balancing balances the weight of the wheel which serves to lower the vibrations experienced when the vehicle is travelling at top speeds.

What if something goes wrong with the tyres?

Tyres will gradually wear and need replacing due to old age. This can be exacerbated by incorrect tyre pressure; misaligned tyres; punctured tyres; and harsh braking. Driving with worn, damaged, or ill fitting tyres is dangerous for both yourself and other road users and can also invalidate your car insurance.