Johannesburg - Motorists are urged to check (and replace if necessary) their tyres, as many South Africans return to work and daily grinds this week after a lengthy festive season break. Worn out tyres pose a grave risk to road users as they affect a vehicle’s braking and steering.

As a part of your back-to-the-grindstone to-do-list, it advised to have your tyres assessed, just in case they’ve been damaged over the holidays.

It’s especially important to have your tyres checked if you plan on making another road trip soon, perhaps over Easter, which will be here before you know it. Road fatalities sky-rocket over the festive and Easter seasons, being around 30% more than the monthly average, according to the Road Traffic Management Corporation.

“Drunk driving and speed all contribute to the road carnage, and tyres are also critical for road safety and drivers should ensure they check their tyres before they set off,” says Carlo Baldocchi, Tyre Sector Manager for SATMC.

“Good tyre and tread condition is critical to ensure good braking and handling in both wet and dry conditions as well as to provide good steering response,” he adds.

Baldocchi explains that in addition to the condition of the tyre, pressure is also important: “The over and under-inflation of a tyre has a detrimental effect on the driver’s control of the vehicle. Furthermore, over and under-inflation of a tyre results in uneven wear of the tread. Over-inflation will result in excessive wear in the centre of the tread and under-inflation will result in excessive wear on the shoulders of the tyre - meaning that you will have to replace your tyres prematurely. Your tyre pressure should be checked at least once a month and especially before you embark on a road trip.”

Baldocchi recommends that drivers consult the maintenance document provided by their vehicle’s manufacturer to ensure that they are applying the correct tyre pressure.

“Drivers also need to remember that the heavier a vehicle is, the higher the pressure required. Your vehicle’s maintenance record will provide information on tyre pressures for different loads,” he says.

Dos and dont's of good tyre care and maintenance

* The tread pattern is important for dispersing water on the road surface so ensure that the tread on all your tyres are above the Tread Wear Indicator (TWI), a design feature in the tread pattern of all tyres made available to the South African consumer.

* The requisite tyre pressure depends on a vehicle’s size, weight and power configurations, so consult your vehicle’s specification and vehicle maintenance document to ensure you have the right tyre pressure. If your vehicle is heavier than normal, you will have to increase your tyre pressure.

* Tyres should ideally be inflated when cool and before a long trip. However, should you need to inflate a tyre during a long trip, this should be done immediately. Do not deflate the tyre when it is hot as this may give a false indication that there is a problem with the tyre, such as a slow puncture.

* Tyres may only be repaired in the tread area (not the sidewall) and only by a tyre dealer who specialises in tyre repairs according to repair standards.

* Passenger, SUV and light commercial tyre treads cannot be regrooved. It is illegal to do so. Only a tyre with the word “Regroovable” engraved on the sidewall can be regrooved, and this applies only to heavy commercial truck and bus tyres as an additional layer of tread has been built into the tyre for this purpose.

* Out of sight is not out of mind - don’t forget about your spare tyre. Your spare tyre should also be checked before you set off on a trip to ensure it is not worn and is inflated.

The SATMC represents the interests of the local tyre manufacturers and is managed under the umbrella of NAACAM (National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers).