FAQ

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions from our customers. The answers are often not what you may think and there are numerous misperceptions that over the years have become a generally accepted bad habit – even in certain tyre outlets!

Please take some time to read through the following and refer to our ‘tyre care and maintenance’ section for more information. This section also includes information on how to conduct the proper tyres check which can be done manually.

If you have any questions that are not covered in this section or require any additional information, please contact us for professional advice.



How do I know if I need new tyres?

This may come across as an odd question but a number of people do not know when they should replace their tyres. Of course there is legislation which states that when a tyre’s tread depth is worn down to 1mm it must be replaced (this may change to 1.6mm soon in line with international guidelines), however, it may be necessary to replace your tyres before this level under the following circumstances:

  • Tyre damage– if a tyre shows signs of sidewall bubbles or blisters, raised shoulder section (all indicators of a separation), cracks or any other obvious irreparable damage; it should be replaced immediately to avoid a possible tyre failure. This damage is generally very localised (in one specific spot on the tyre) and the typical cause would be a road hazard such as pothole, striking a sharp or heavy object.
  • Uneven wear– when a tyre wears excessively in any area to the point where the remaining tread is below acceptable levels. This may include shoulder wear, centre wear or flat spots. Causes may include incorrect alignment, suspension problems, over or under-inflation, severe braking or general abuse and possible separation.
  • Constant imbalance, tyre ‘shudder’ and general discomfort– if one or more tyres continually require balancing and excessive vibrations are felt through the steering (front tyres) or the driver’s seat (rear tyres); the faulty tyre should be removed and inspected for uneven wear, possible separation or other problems. Driver fatigue is accelerated by such irritations and even possible tyre failure may occur in some instances.
  • Loss of grip– this occurs when tyres offer insufficient grip and begin to lose traction in corners, under braking etc. When this occurs, it is time to replace them – even if the remaining tread depth is within legal limits. This should be kept in mind during wet conditions such as our Spring / Summer rains, 1.6mm of tread is not adequate to disperse water quickly enough. Trust your instincts and do not risk your safety (or others’!) in an effort to squeeze those last few remaining kilometres out of your tyres.
  • SUV / 4x4 and high performance vehicles– with heavier and / or more powerful vehicles, we strongly recommend replacing your tyres at 3mm tread depth. Tyres on such vehicles experience greater stresses and generally work far harder. For this reason. 1.6mm is insufficient for safe cornering and / or braking.

The above may seem to be common sense however, many people choose to ignore the warning signs and put off replacing their tyres. Only four small patches of rubber are your sole contact with the road!

If at all unsure or concerned about your tyres, please visit one of our outlets for a free safety inspection and professional, honest advice.

Should I fit 2 or 4 tyres?

Ideally, well-maintained and regularly rotated tyres will wear out evenly and be replaced as a complete set. When the time comes to replace your tyres, we strongly recommend changing all four together – especially if fitting a different brand or tread pattern to those currently on the vehicle. The reason for this is twofold, namely safety and performance.

 

  • Safety– tyres are engineered to work as a team of 4, not independently. Mismatched tyres will have varying levels of grip and performance. In the case of replacing 2 tyres that are exactly the same as those on your vehicle, a difference in remaining tread depth can result in vastly different traction levels. This is especially true in the case of higher performance vehicles and in wet weather conditions.
  • Performance– as we mentioned above, mismatched tyres perform differently. You will become accustomed to the steering feedback; smoothness and grip levels afforded by your tyres and will drive accordingly. However, when replacing only 2 tyres, the balance between front and rear will change and the performance you have become accustomed to may not be the same which could have potentially dangerous consequences.

 

IF fitting only 2 tyres - If you are only replacing 2 tyres for any reason, where will you fit them? Unfortunately many people are under the false impression that new tyres should be fitted to the front axle, especially with front wheel drive vehicles. While from an economic viewpoint it might be argued that the front tyres work harder being the drive axle and subjected to steering forces etc. From a safety perspective this is in fact incorrect and can be fatally dangerous!

Fitting the best tyres on the rear axle greatly assists in maintaining control in wet conditions as the deeper tread resists aquaplaning (also known as hydroplaning), which in a nutshell is the point at which tyres cannot disperse water fast enough and begin to lose traction.

When aquaplaning occurs on the front axle, the driver will experience under steer which is fairly easy to overcome by simply releasing the accelerator, allowing the vehicle to slow and regain traction.

On the rear axle however aquaplaning creates an over steer situation whereby the rear wants to break loose and force the vehicle into a spin. Not only is this more dangerous, it is also far more difficult to recover from and releasing the accelerator or applying brakes will actually contribute to the problem, causing a complete spinout.

All tyre companies and road safety organisations agree on one simple rule – best grip on the rear!


Can I fit different brand tyres to my vehicle?

Original fitment tyres fitted to your vehicle are selected based on certain minimum criteria with factors such as performance and noise / comfort levels taken into careful consideration. Of course when replacing tyres you may choose to change to a different brand of your choice, however,they should match or exceed the minimum requirements in terms of speed and load rating (using lower rated tyres may affect warranties and motorplans, and in the event of an accident may even void any insurance claims).

Before purchasing tyres, careful consideration needs to be taken in terms of the new tyres’ quality, guarantees and backup and overall suitability for your vehicle. Please see our tyre selection section for more advice in this regard.

Consult a professional if you are unsure of a tyre’s suitability for your car!

Are ‘budget’ tyres suitable for my vehicle?

This is a difficult question that can only be answered once we tackle another question – "What is a budget tyre?” Truth be told, there are very few ‘bad’ tyres made these days and the vast majority do conform to minimum standards as prescribed by the relevant governing bodies or organisations in various markets around the world.

Currently, there are over 200 different tyre brands available in South Africa, all of which are homologated to ensure suitability for our roads and conditions. Many of these may have unfamiliar names that perhaps do not instil the greatest confidence however, according to current legislation, they do meet the criteria and are therefore legally acceptable.

Whether or not a ‘budget’ tyre is suitable for your needs is up to you. There are certain minimum standards as stipulated by your vehicle manufacturer such as tyre size, load and speed ratings but you will still be faced with numerous options in terms of brand name and pricing. This is where seeking the correct advice from a trusted, reputable source is vital before any purchase decision is made.

While at first glance a tyre that costs as much as 50% less than a more familiar brand may seem very attractive, please bear in mind that ultimately you get what you pay for; and while a cheaper tyre may ‘do the job’, it may not deliver when it comes to performance, safety, and even mileage.

Always bear in mind that the major manufacturers spend huge amounts of money on research and development annually. Tyre construction, tread design and compounds are continuously being revised and improved to increase performance and safety levels. There are many cheaper tyre companies that produce almost identical looking tyres to the better known brands however, a sporty looking tread design does not equate to sporty performance.

When in doubt, research the brand and tread pattern before making any decision – there are numerous tyre review websites and tyre test results on the internet. Alternatively consult a tyre professional for advice and remember – when something looks too good to be true, it usually is!

McCarthy Tyres has selected a few ‘pocket friendly’ brands that have proved themselves over the past few years in the local market and offer adequate backup and guarantees. Similarly, there are numerous brands that we will not stock or source under any circumstances. We take your safety very seriously and will not compromise it in any way by fitting tyres that have not met our high standards.

‘PRICE is what you pay, VALUE is what you get’ – Warren Buffet

When do I rotate my tyres?

This depends on your vehicle, as well as how and where you drive. A general rule for average vehicles would be at least every 10000kms with a balancing and alignment check performed at the same time. This will ensure even wear on all tyres and prevent a situation where you have better grip on one axle than another. Remember, we ideally want to keep the performance of your tyres well balanced between front and rear. Regular rotation will put off having to replace 2 tyres prematurely and allow you to replace all 4 tyres at a later stage as discussed in the previous section.

However in the case of 4x4 or AWD vehicles, we would recommend rotating your tyres every 6 – 7000kms as these tend to be more prone to developing uneven or ‘heel & toe’ wear if left in the same position for too long. Also bear in mind that such vehicles have additional couplings and differentials that work together to compensate for differences in wheel rotational speeds when turning a corner etc. With tyres that have substantially different tread depths or are mismatched in any way, these couplings are forced to work harder than intended and may eventually wear out completely necessitating costly replacement.

With high performance vehicles, also consider rotating more frequently to get the maximum life and best performance from your tyres. In cases where a vehicle has different size tyres front and rear, rotation is not possible. It is therefore far more important to ensure that all other maintenance (alignment, balancing and pressure checks) is performed regularly.

In a nutshell, the more frequently you rotate your tyres, the more you will get out of them – both in terms of safety and extended tyre life.

What is balancing?

Wheel balancing corrects any imbalance in a wheel & tyre assembly, ensuring that your wheels run perfectly straight instead of ‘hopping’ or ‘wobbling’. When wheels run true, not only do they perform better and wear more evenly, they minimise driver fatigue and irritation.

Balancing should be checked when tyres are rotated and if any vibration is felt while driving (usually after striking an object in the road). Any shake on the steering wheel is a good indication of front wheels being out of balance, while rear imbalance is generally felt through the driver’s seat.

Should you feel any vibration while driving, please visit one of our professional tyre centres to have your balancing checked and any other possible causes rectified.

What is alignment?

Wheel alignment should form part of your routine vehicle maintenance and will greatly enhance your tyre life and performance if checked regularly, it also ensures the optimum response in steering and handling capabilities of your vehicle.

Simply put, wheel alignment ensures that your wheels run straight (not pulling to one side), in parallel to the opposite wheel on the same axle (working together, not against each other) and in line with the tyres on a different axle. There are various aspects of this and you may have heard about toe, camber and caster, however there are numerous other checks that a specialist technician will perform during a thorough wheel alignment check and adjustment.

Again we recommend having alignment checked with every tyre rotation along with your balancing. Between these intervals if you feel a pull to either side, detect uneven wear patterns developing or if you strike any object on the road, please check your alignment as soon as possible.

(SUV and 4x4 owners please note – if you regularly drive off road, please have wheel alignment checked more frequently, preferably as soon as possible after returning from a trip.)

How do I know the correct pressure for my tyres?

Tyre pressure maintenance (or lack thereof) is a leading cause of premature tyre wear and in extreme cases, tyre failure or blowout.

Checking your tyre pressure is a simple task which does not require any specialist equipment or technician. It can (and should) be done by each vehicle owner on a monthly basis as tyres do lose pressure naturally (on average 1 psi or 0.076 Bar per month) through the porous rubber materials.

The correct pressure for your vehicle appears on a clearly marked label located either at the driver side door, inside the fuel flap and in your owner’s manual. Take careful note of the difference between laden and unladen pressures – a fully loaded vehicle carrying more weight requires a higher pressure to operate efficiently and safely.

Important to note is that your recommended tyre pressure does not change even if you fit larger aftermarket or optional wheels. If for example your vehicle’s recommended pressure is 2.2 Bar with standard 14”wheels and you change to 17”, still inflate the tyres to 2.2 Bar.