Car tyres: everything you need to know

How do I check my tyre pressures?

First of all, you should check your car’s handbook, the sticker that you’ll find on the door frame or inside the fuel filler flap, or simply search online, to find the correct tyre pressures for your car and its load level. You should then remove the dust cap from tyre valve and, using a tyre pressure gauge, read the current pressure. You should add air using an electric compressor if the pressure is too low and remove air if too high. If you do not have a tyre pressure gauge or a compressor, most petrol stations will have an air line. 

Remember, tyre pressures will increase with heat and reduce in the cold. That means you should check and adjust your tyre pressures in representative ambient temperatures (don’t set them in a warm garage if it is cold outside, for instance) and when the tyres themselves are cool rather than hot. 

What is a tyre pressure monitoring system? 

Most modern cars will have an in-built tyre pressure monitoring system, which constantly monitors your tyre pressures and warns you if they are too low. When your pressures fall beneath the manufacturer’s recommended level, the TPMS will illuminate a warning light within the instrument binnacle. You’ll know your car has a TPMS if you see this warning light appear briefly when you turn on your car’s ignition (it will quickly switch off again as long are your tyre pressures are correct). TPMS is a legal requirement on cars built after 2014. 

There are two types of TPMS. The first is indirect type, which uses the ABS to approximate tyre pressures. The second and more advanced is direct type, which actually uses a tiny pressure gauge to gather exact data. 

On higher-end cars, the TPMS will be able to display your exact tyre pressures in real time on the dashboard. TPMS is good for safety, but only if it is working properly. Therefore, it’s advisable to manually check your pressures from time to time. 

What size tyres for my car?

The easiest way to work out what size tyres you need for your car is to check the tyres that are already on it. You will see the tyre size marked on the sidewall. Be aware that the front and rear tyres may well be a different size. 

You can also use websites such as blackcircles.com to search for the correct tyre size by inputting your car’s registration number. Depending on your car you may be offered a range of tyre sizes, in which case you should refer to the sidewalls of the tyres currently fitted to it. 

How long do car tyres typically last?

There are too many variables to give a definitive answer to that question. High-performance tyres will have a much shorter life than fuel-saving low rolling resistance tyres, while your driving style, the type of car you drive and the sort of driving you mostly do will also be very significant factors in determining tyre life. 

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