75% of Malaysian Cars Run On Under-inflated Tyres
According to an article in the Borneo Post, an estimated 3 out of 4 vehicles in Malaysia have under-inflated tyres, which lead to higher fuel consumption and carbon monoxide output, deceased tyre durability and higher risk of accidents. Michelin Malaysia’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Rian Aznani, said that educating Malaysians on proper tyre maintenance could effect a reduction of fuel consumption by 47,000 litres a year.
Although there is no available statistic on the total fuel consumption by vehicles in Malaysia, according to the CIA World Factbook, the country recorded an estimated consumption of refined petroleum products equivalent to 542,900 oil barrels in 2011, or 86.3 million litres (1bbl = 158.987294928 litres). So, proper tyre maintenance of all the vehicles in the country would help reduce petroleum consumption by 0.0005%, hardly a number to whoop about. Still, as the Malay saying goes, ‘bit by bit, eventually a mountain is formed.’
Perhaps the most important benefit is safety. In the UK, in 2012, more than 1,100 road casualties occurred because of under-inflated, defective or illegal tyres. Again, not a large number, but still significant to the individual who could have avoided the accident if only he had checked his tyres regularly.
So, how many of us really know how to care for our tyres? How much pressure is too much or too little? When is it time to rotate or change our tyres? Here’s a simple guide (when we say ‘simple’, it really is):
1) Not just a pretty pattern
TREAD. The rule of thumb is that the tyre tread should have a depth of at least 1.6mm. Anything less, your vehicle will have less traction on the road and, yes, it will get slippery when wet.
2) Not to much, not too little, just right
PRESSURE. Check the tyre pressure at least once a month, and before extended journeys. Under-inflated tyres exacerbates tread wear on the outer edges, generates more heat which leads to even more wear, and increases resistance which leads to higher fuel consumption, because the car just has to work harder. Over-inflation leads to wear on the tyre centre. What’s the correct pressure for your tyres? Check your car door sill; the specifications are printed there clearly.
3) Taking turns
ROTATION. Rotate your tyres every 5,000 to 8,000 kilometres to lengthen their lifetime. Depending on whether your vehicle is a front, rear or 4 wheel drive, the rotation pattern differs. Your mechanic would probably know what to do, but if you’re the type who wants to “just know”, here’s a guide by Bridgestone.
4) Finding your centre
BALANCING & ALIGNMENT. Check the balancing and alignment of your vehicle every 10,000 kilometres. Not only will it help maintain the tyre treads longer, it also improves the handling of your car. A car should move where you want it to, not swerve to the side.
5) The neglected one
THE SPARE TYRE. Yes, we always forget that there’s a very important tyre tucked away somewhere, usually in the car boot. Wouldn’t it be awful if we had a flat tyre and then discover that the spare is also flat? Check the spare regularly, ensuring that it is always inflated to the correct pressure.