Home' Journeys : Aug Sep 2015 Contents Spare tyres now come in four main categories: full-size, temporary use or
space-saver, run-f lat tyres (RFTs) and inf lator kits.
Full-size is a direct replacement for the wheels fitted to your vehicle, although
increasingly manufactures are becoming sneaky, fitting the correct replacement
tyre onto a cheaper steel rim rather than an alloy wheel (most vehicles now come
Temporary use and space savers have greater limitations than a full-size spare and
are primarily designed to be fitted in the event of a puncture so the vehicle can be
driven to a repairer. In most cases they are speed limited to 80km/h, not as a result of
cheaper construction, but because their differing size to the car’s regular wheels has
the potential to upset the vehicle’s handling and braking dynamics at higher speeds.
Some vehicles don’t have a spare wheel at all and are fitted with RFTs. An RFT
is a specially constructed tyre that looks like a conventional one and is designed
to run uninf lated in the event of a puncture. Like the temporary use wheel, there
are limitations on usage and an RFT can only be used for a set distance, usually
80 kilometres. A tyre pressure monitoring system alerts the driver via a warning light
if a tyre has a lower pressure than the rest. The tyre’s pressure can be checked and
inf lated if necessary, and one advantage of the RFT is that if you do have a puncture,
you don’t have to stop on a busy or unsafe stretch of road to change the wheel.
Inf lator cans or mobility kits are the least preferable option. They generally
incorporate either a battery-powered air compressor and a tyre sealant, or
pressurised containers of sealant to inf late the tyre. In effect, you become the tyre
repairer – but the inf lator kits usually only work if the puncture is small and the
tyre is otherwise undamaged. In some cases, the sealant makes the tyre unusable
for a permanent repair, and the cost of replacing the sealant kit can run into
hundreds of dollars. Another catch is that they have a use-by date, so even if you
don’t use it, the kit eventually needs to be replaced.
The type of spare wheel you need depends on the type of driving you do. If your
commute is mostly around town, then a full-size spare will be less important
to you than to someone who drives in the country. No matter where you drive,
though, a full-size spare will enable you to continue on with the least impact.
Temporary use, space-savers, and RFTs, with their speed and distance limitations,
aren’t great if you’re driving in the country (and trying to find a replacement tyre
on a weekend in a small town can be a real problem.) Inf lator kits may not be able
to repair the tyre, leaving a tow truck and a disrupted trip as your only option.
Wherever you live, if you’re buying a new vehicle you really need to make sure
what spare wheel comes with it. The additional cost and lost time associated with
anything less than a full-size spare wheel could quickly take the air out of your
new car experience.
Tread Safely Week, from 7-13 September, a
joint initiative of the Australian Road Safety
Foundation and Bob Jane T-Marts, aims to
educate all road users on the important role
tyres and tread depth play in vehicle safety
over one week. Check these five tips:
1 All tyres slowly deflate over a period
of time, so check tyre pressure every
2-3 weeks and when the tyres are cold.
Recommended tyre pressures are located
on a placard on the inside edge of the
2 To keep water and dirt out of tyre valves,
replace missing tyre valve caps.
3 Regularly check balance and alignment to
maximise the life of tyres. Regular wheel
balances ensure your tyres run smoothly on
the road to improve your vehicle’s control,
and wheel alignments maximise the life of
tyres by ensuring they wear evenly.
4 The minimum amount of tread required
for a car to be roadworthy is 1.6mm, but
it’s wise to replace tyres at 2mm as wet-
weather grip is diminished when there is
a small amount of tread. To check tread
depth, put a match head into the tread
grooves – if any part of the head shows
above the grooves it’s time to replace
5 Regularly check tyres for wear such as
tears or bruises on sidewalls as well as
embedded objects like nails or stones as
they may lead to a puncture, and always
remember to check the spare
Find out more: www.treadsafely.com.au
The type of spare wheel you need depends on the type
of driving you do.
AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2015 Journeys 25
LIFE ON THE MOVE
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