Drivers on the road this Christmas might be overlooking a fatal flaw in their motor vehicles when they head off on their road trips – car tyres need special attention to gear them up for long trips on the road.

Women travelling alone are especially at risk because a puncture or blow out could leave them stranded on the side of a road, waiting for help to arrive. Rodney Idris, spokesperson for Continental Tyre (SA), explains.

Repairing your tyres – is it worth it?

Idris says it is important that you consult a reputable tyre dealer for advice on tyre damage, injuries and repairs. A tyre that has had an injury will never have the casing strength that was originally built into the tyre – it now has a weak spot.

Pumping up your tyres – remember to do it first thing

"Use the tyre pressures as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Remember vehicle manufactures issue cold pressure recommendations. Cold means first thing in the morning and with the vehicle having travelled less then 1,5km at town speeds," he says.

The tyre's tread – are you driving with smooth tyres?

"The tyre's tread has to transmit the forces for acceleration, braking and then cornering from the vehicle to the road surface, so has to provide the necessary grip. When you consider that most vehicles weigh in the order of 1500 kg, and are capable of speeds well in excess of our legal limit of 120 km/h, this is quite a tall order," Idris notes.

"The tyre tread grooves do not disperse water from the footprint, but are designed to hold water in them. If the depth of water is too high, the depth of the tread too little, or the speed of the vehicle too high for the tread grooves to process this water, then aquaplaning will occur."

Wheel alignment

Alignment should be checked every 10 000 km or six months, which ever occurs first, unless you know that you have hit a pothole, or some other object, in which case it should be done immediately as a precaution.

Wheel balancing – front and back

"When you feel an out of balance condition on the steering, have ALL the wheels balanced, and not merely the front wheels. Unbalanced wheels on the rear can often be felt through the steering wheel vibrations. Unbalanced wheels can cause considerable damage to suspension components, cause irregular wear on the tyres, as well as increase fuel consumption," he adds.