The no fuss guide to maintaining your tyres: plus how to easily change a tyre

February 6th, 2023

When it comes to the cost of owning a car, tyres are often overlooked.

Tyre maintenance can be expensive and is easy for most people to forget about until they need new tyres or have an accident.

In this article we will discuss how you can look after your tyres so you can save money in the long term and have your tyres last longer. 

The law on tyre conditions

Tyres must meet certain conditions to pass as roadworthy.

One of these conditions is tread depth1, in other words the depth of the grooves that run vertically across each tyre. This is important because the tread depth directly affects grip levels and puts drivers at risk of sliding on rainy days.

Considering this risk, it is alarming to think that 40% of Aussie drivers are unaware of the minimum legal tread depth, 1.5mm across the width of the tread, according to the Australian Road Safety Foundation2

Even though that is the legal limit, most car manufacturers recommend replacing your tyres well before that point.

How to check the condition of your tyres

When was the last time you checked your vehicle wheels?

The life of your tyres can be affected by excessive wear, air pressure and an unbalanced tyre.

Some checks you can perform yourself however you should always ask a professional mechanic when it comes to tyre damage, wheel alignment, tyre rotation or your vehicle’s suspension.

How to check tyre pressure

When it comes to your air pressure, you will have a smoother ride and longer-lasting tyres if done correctly.  If you get wrong, oh boy will you know about it.

Given air pressure can have a significant impact on your tyre life and contribute to uneven wear, check your car tyre to ensure it is at the recommended pressure before you hit the highway.

Take a look first thing in the morning while it is cool. You can find the right tyre pressure for your car by checking the placard bolted to its door frame3.

Check your tyres at least monthly to make sure they always meet the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations and the car’s weight (especially if you’re heading on a vacay).

How to check tyre tread

When your tyre is worn through to the legal limit, the tread wear indicator bars (TWI) will be flush with the surface of the tread.

These bars are moulded into the tread grooves at regular intervals around the tyre to let you know when the tyre has reached its limit of safety.

The standard tread depth on tyres is 8.0mm, however once you are down to 3.0mm, it is definitely time to change your tyres4.

Tyre tread can affect your car handling, rolling resistance and braking. And if that doesn’t convince you, think about your fuel consumption – having the right tyre conditions can save you some hard earned cash when it comes to fuel economy.

When should you buy new tyres?

If your tyres are running out of tread or are consistently dropping in air pressure, it may be time for an upgrade.

Smaller punctures or sharp objects as well as cuts or bulges in the side walls of your tyres can also call for a trip to the wheel specialists. Even if the wheel doesn’t appear flat at the moment, it will eventually worsen and lead to irregular wear, so best to change it now rather than on the highway.

Before you rock up though, check your owner’s manual for your tyre size to determine if they have the right tyres in stock. It could save you time and fuel.

Are your driving habits reducing the life of your tyres

Did you know that your driving style could be affecting your tyre’s surface?

It pays to drive mindfully when preventing your tyres from wearing prematurely.

High speeds can lead to increased tyre wear, whilst uneven surfaces and road vibration can lead to unbalanced tyres or smaller punctures, which may affect your steering components.

A hot tip: reenacting your favourite hot wheels scene in the garage is not going to help with your tyre pressure or tread wear. In general, you should try not to move your steering wheel too much while your car isn’t moving as it can put a lot of stress on your tyres.

What happens if you don’t maintain your tyres?

There are a few ways it can go if you don’t maintain your tyres.

It could be a freezing cold morning, you go to the garage and realise one of your front tyres is flat or even worse, you start heading towards your nearest coffee pitstop and have to pull over on the highway to change your tyre.

Whichever scenario, it pays to maintain your tyres even if it is a simple wheel alignment or check of the tyre pressure.

Does car insurance cover tyres?

Most insurance policies, will exclude cover for tyre damage caused by punctures, bursts or cuts5. However, if you  have tyre and rim insurance, you may just be covered for tyre and rim damage. 

Extra cover might come at an extra cost, so if you are thinking it is time to upgrade your policy, a Small Loan could see you taking out a better level of cover with a lower premium.

Be sure to read the product disclosure statement before you take out a policy.

How to change your tyres

Now.. the moment you have been waiting for…

The Nimble team has changed their fair share of tyres over the years, so we are going to share some of our best tips (besides finding someone else to do it for you!).

First things first.. your safety!

  1. Make sure you are in a safe area to change your tyre.
  2. Ensure the road surface is even, hard and flat.
  3. Put your car in park for auto or gear for manual, apply the handbrake and turn on your hazard lights.
  4. Make sure you aren’t facing your back or in the way of traffic, otherwise its best to slowly move somewhere safe or call for roadside assistance.
  5. Never, EVER get under your car when it is on a jack.

You will need a few basics

  • your owner’s manual
  • a jack
  • a lug wrench or wheel brace
  • fully inflated spare tyre

Here’s what to do:

We are going to keep it basic for you, but here is what you will need to do:

  1. Loosen the wheel nuts – if they are completely stuck, you may need to call for help from a professional – leave them loose but don’t remove them completely until all of them are done.
  2. Take off the loose nuts and remove the flat tyre and wheel. If it is a little stiff, put a nut back on and give it a light kick, but then remove it gently.
  3. Get the spare wheel ready by lining up the bolt holes so it’s ready to lift on. Tighten the bolts by hand to keep them in place, then gently tighten the nuts with the wheel brace.
  4. Slowly lower the jack until your wheel is back on the ground. You can then firmly tighten the nuts and pack your tools back away.
  5. You will now need to drive to the nearest service station and check the tyre pressure of your spare tyre. If it’s been a while, you may need a bit of air.

Now that you know the importance of checking your tyres and keeping them maintained, you can find out what to do if you use the wrong fuel!

If you are the one that is stuck on the highway and in need of emergency funds to get you a tow truck or roadside assistance, a Nimble Anytime Virtual Mastercard could help you obtain out the funds you need to get you back on the road again.