Car tyre maintenance replacement experience, tips - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Car tyre maintenance replacement experience, tips

I had to replace my car tires recently. This post shares my learnings, findings, observations and tips.

Tyres are a vital component of a vehicle, car or motorcycle. Tyres need periodic maintenance and replacement.

How long car tyres are expected to last?
30000 kms/3 years is the minimum expected life span for car tyres. Some car owners manage to drive as much as 55000-60000 kms/5-6 years on their tires, with proper maintenance, driving sparingly in city and only on good roads and a bit of luck. I’ve read people claiming their tyres are good even after 80000 kms but I think that is extreme. Anything around 40000-45000 kms/4-5 years is a decent life for the car tires used for highway drives at speeds of 80-100 kmph or more.

Manufacturers provide what is known as Tyre Wear Indicator- a section in tyre tread kept a few mms above the base and several mms below the original thread. If the wear reaches this limit, you’re expected to change tires. In countries like UAE tyre wear is also thoroughly checked before renewing vehicle permits.

Many Indians try to use the tyre beyond tyre wear indicator, as they feel the tires will still last a few thousand kms more and there is no need to spend money on new tires yet. This might work for city usage where speeds are low, risk of blowout is less and help is nearby if required. But at a certain point it becomes a decision on how much risk we’re willing to take- is it worth using the tyre a bit longer, save some money/delay purchase or don't take any risk and replace right away.

Typical issues with tyres

  • Old tyres wear out- there are markings in the tyre to hint how much thread is left and when is the time to change tyres. Beyond 30-35k kms, with little thread left, high speed driving with heavy load on highways can be a risk as tyres may burst. Those using their cars for city use only at slow speeds can use the tyres longer as risk is low. It will become a judgment call depending on your usage, risk appetite and how much more life you’re keen to extract from existing tyres.
  • Stock tyres in new cars might be older than you think. For the car you got delivery in say October, tyres were probably made in Jan, given to car manufacture, car assembled in July/august, spending a few months in stockyards etc.
  • Rubber gets hard over time
  • Side cuts- rubbing against side walls, rocks or sharp objects may damage side profile of tyres
  • Uneven wear- some portion of the tyres wearing off too much- due to improver alignment, not maintaining right tyre pressure and balancing or such cases

My car has driven 34000 kms in 2.5 years. Besides NH66, the usage involved driving on bad roads once a while- several waterfalls, viewpoints and other tourist places I visited in coastal areas had bad roads. Either we’ve to park and walk for kms or take a risk and drive on the bad roads a bit closer to save time and effort.

I noticed wear out at 34000 kms. I was debating if the car will hold for another 6000 kms/6 months. Everyone suggested to change now, as one tyre had very bad wear out and wires were coming out. Drove another 1000 kms contemplating what to do but eventually at 35400 kms decided to get new tyres.

3 new tyres + spare
Venue comes with a full size spare tyre, which is a good thing (many cars come with space saving thin tyres). My spare tire was not used even for 500 kms. So I decided to put it to main duty- instead of buying 4 new tires, I bought 3 new tires and used the previous spare tyre as a fourth. This is doable if the spare is in good condition, has the same size as the rest of the tires and you manage to get new tires having the same pattern as the spare tire.

Spare wheel exposed to elements (like in Thar or Ecosport) will deteriorate faster than spare wheels kept under the hood.

The best of the four original tyres is currently being used as spare tyres. Old tire still has some life to support for a few hundred kms if needed while I get the punctured tire repaired. Many feel this is not right-I’ve decided to take a chance and see what happens.

I had to decide between CEAT and Yokohoma, the later is 2k INR more expensive, I have decided to go with CEAT for now. My old tyres fetched Zero value. After I bought CEAT, I was shown a CEAT Ad on facebook offering a price for old tires- should have told this to me earlier CEAT.

Buy online vs offline:
Websites like Amazon sell tyres. But then we will have to take them to the service center anyway to get them fitted. Price was the same. I didn’t see any point buying online- decided to buy offline

Cost of new tyres:
New car tyres easily cost between 3500 to 10000 INR each, depending on the brand, size etc. Naturally tyres of alto are a lot cheaper compared to tyres of a Fortuner. My Venue tyres cost me around 5500 INR for CEAT (195/65 R15). There is 28% GST on tyre cost.
Brands like Yokohoma are another 15-20% more expensive.

Should we upsize the wheel?
Another general trend among vehicle owners is to go for higher size tyres. I didn’t opt for this due to following reasons

  • Up-sizing also needs new rim. Going for alloy wheels will cost 25-30k just for rims. I didn’t see any value in spending so much money on wheels when I already have very good stock steel rims.
  • Up-sizing affects speedometer and odometer reading as the number of rotations to cover a specific distance now reduces
  • The car is originally designed and tested for a specific wheel size. If these are altered not sure how vehicle dynamics will be impacted- stability etc
  • I have no need to impress anyone with my car, so didn’t see value in spending money unnecessarily.

Wheel rotation, balancing and alignment
It is recommended that vehicle owners do this regularly (Every 5000 kms). The wheel rotation, balancing and alignment activity will cost about 1000 INR in tyre shops, 2500-4000 INR in automobile showrooms. Anywhere between 20 paise to 1 rupee every km.

Rotation: Rotation is an activity of swapping front 2 tyres with rear 2 tyres. In a front wheel drive car, front tyres will have double duty- to pull the car forward and also turn. And they have to bear the load of the engine all the time. Thus front tyres wear out faster. Rotation swaps them with rear 2 tyres, allowing less stressed rear wheels take front wheel duty.

Balancing: Balancing involves checking if the wheel is rotating uniformly. If there is some imbalance found, counter weight units are added at specific spots to restore the balance.

Alignment: Alignment check involves ensuring wheel movement is aligned to steering rotation.

If the car has a balancing or alignment issue, you will notice it while driving as the vehicle doesn’t respond precisely for steering movement, going slightly left or right instead of straight line or some kind of wobbling/imbalance is found. But then you don’t have to wait till a mistake is felt. Periodic maintenance will save trouble. If the car is used regularly for highway driving, wheel alignment, balance and rotation can be done every 5000-7500 kms. If car is used in city only and very sparingly and on good roads, a less frequent visit (say every 15000 kms) is adequate in my personal opinion.

Managing right tyre pressure
Manufacturers recommend a certain tyre pressure to be maintained all time in our cars. However there’re practical challenges

  • Sometime load is more (5 people & luggage), sometime less- difficult to keep varying tyre pressure based on load
  • Tyre pressure drops gradually. If you had 33 PSI, after a week it may drop to 30 PSI. A bit hard to keep checking and adding pressure on a daily basis. If your car has a TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring system) and you’ve got an onboard inflator, it is lot easier.  Else best done before each long trip or once or twice a week while filling fuel. I usually add a PSI or two more than recommended, with the thought that initial few days tyres will be over inflated, but then air drops off, after few days it comes down to recommended level and after a week it drops further by a few PSI n becomes under inflated, balancing the over inflation done earlier. It could be wrong do to like this, but I find this more practical.

Tyre replacement (say 20000-30000 INR every 40000 kms) & wheel balance, alignment- 1000 INR every 5000 Kms or 8000 INR for 40000 kms- will easily add almost a rupee for every km car is used. Don’t ignore this fact.

Hope this post was useful.

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