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checking for repairs

Carrying out safety checks your tyres

Vehicle safety checks not only help you have a safer journey, it will also help you avoid breakdowns and save you time and money.

Before you start checking your vehicle, you must be well rested and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. After making sure of these, you can go ahead and start checking your tyres, tyre tread, tyre pressure and even change a tyre if needed.

HOW TO CHANGE A TYRE   

Before changing your tyres, you need to prepare the tools that will make your task easier. You can easily change your tyres on your own or with assistance from another adult.

  • Car jack - The is a basic equipment that is a must-have for any car owner. They are available in different sizes and may come with different features and load-bearing capacities. If you are planning to change your tyres on your own, make sure your car jack has a load-bearing capacity of at least two tonnes. You have to take note of the maximum lifting height as well. This is the distance of the vehicle from the ground when the car jack is fully extended. If the car jack's lifting height is too low, you may not be able to lift the car enough and remove the tyres. To prevent this from happening, purchase the recommended car jack for your vehicle by reading the manual.
  • Cross wrench - Otherwise known as the 4-way wheel brace, the cross wrench is a device which will help you loosen and tighten up wheel nuts. As a rule of thumb, match your wheel nut sizes with the spanner widths of your cross wrench. Before you purchase a cross wrench, check the size and check its fit on your wheel nuts.
  • Torque wrench - This device will help ensure your wheel nuts are tightened securely. This is very essential for the wheel grip and seating. There's a designated torque value for each car. You can find this value in your vehicle manual. Always remember, the torque wrench is only intended for tightening wheel nuts and not loosening them. If used incorrectly, you may damage the device.
  • Wire brush This tool is intended to remove dirt and loose rust from the wheel hub, wheel connecting piece and axle.
  • Grease pencil. When changing your tyres, you need to mark its original positions with abbreviations. The grease pencil will do the job for you. This is important when storing your summer or winter tyres.
  • Gloves. Aside from protecting your hands from dirt, dust, or rust, wearing gloves will help you get a better grip on the tyres and tools.

If you need to change your tyres along the road or wherever you are, it is also useful to have these equipment.

  • Torch - If it's dark, you need a torch to make your work area visible.
  • Reflective jacket - Wearing one will make you visible from approaching vehicles.
  • Warning triangle - This will help alert other drivers with the presence of an obstruction or hazard.  
  • Short plank of wood - You might need this to stabilise the car jack.
  • Tyre pressure gauge - This device will check the inflation of your car tyres.

As soon as you have all the proper tools and equipment, follow these steps.

  • For manual transmissions, put your car into first gear then apply the handbrake. For automatic transmissions, put your car into park then apply the handbrake.
  • Loosen the wheel nuts using the cross wrench.
  • Place the car jack at the area indicated on
  •  your vehicle. Raise your car a few centimetres up by using the jack.
  • Remove the wheel nuts using the cross wrench and remove the tyre off the hub then mark it using your grease pencil.
  • Take this opportunity to clean the wheel hub. Brush away dirt and rust then place the new wheel thereafter.
  • Put the wheel nuts and tighten them lightly using the cross wrench.
  • Use the car jack to lower your vehicle until the tyre reaches the ground.
  • Tighten up the wheel nuts with its designated torque value using the torque wrench. Use a criss-cross pattern to ensure the tyre is fitted correctly on the wheel hub.
  • Lower your vehicle the rest of the way and remove the car jack. Repeat the steps if you need to change the other tyres.

HOW TO CHECK YOUR TYRE TREAD

According to Highways England, almost 1/3 of the accidents in 2015 were caused by vehicle defects which were partly caused by illegal tyres, defective tyres or underinflated tyres. If a police officer brings you to a halt and finds you with illegal tyres, you could end up paying a fine of £2,500 and get 3 penalty points for each illegal tyre. 

In order to keep this from happening to you, check your tyre tread. Here's a step-by-step guide on how you can do it on your own.

  • As a legal requirement, your tyre treads should have a minimum depth of 1.6mm.
  • You can use a 20p coin to check your tyre tread. Place the coin into the main grooves of your tyres.
  • After placing the 20p coin, check if you can still see the coin's raised outer rim with 'TWENTY PENCE' engraved on it. If you cannot see it, it means that your tyres have sufficient tread depth.
  • After doing this to one part of your tyre, do the same thing at least twice more to another part of the same tyre because one part may be more used up than the other.
  • While doing the coin check, it is also important that you check your tyres for presence of damages, bulges, tears or cuts.

WHAT SHOULD MY TYRE PRESSURE BE?

Ensuring a safe journey means you need to check your tyre pressure. Driving a vehicle with overinflated or underinflated tyres can unfavorably affect your fuel efficiency, steering, braking distance and the lifespan of your tyres.

Avoid these potential dangers by following this step-by-step guide on how to check your tyre pressure.

  • Most service and filling stations in the UK have air machines which enables you to check and inflate your car tyres.
  • Vehicles have recommended tyre pressure. In order to determine your vehicle's recommended tyre pressure, read your vehicle manual or check your petrol cap or driver's door.
  • After knowing the definitive amount of pressure, set the air machine to that amount.
  • Start unscrewing the valve caps of your tyres. Attach the air pressure gauge firmly to the tyre valve. You must hear a hiss while you're attaching the gauge to the valve. After the firmly attaching the equipment, the air machine will give you the air pressure reading of your tyre.
  • If your air pressure reading is lower than your recommended vehicle tyre pressure, the air machine will start inflating your tyres and match it. If your air pressure reading is higher, all you need to do is let some air pressure out.