Car tyres take good care of care of us, helping translate our steering, throttle and braking desires into actual on road motion. Now, with our cars potentially sitting around for weeks, or even months at a time, it's about time we give back to our beloved tyres, and take care of them.
This video covers our top six tyre care tips for periods where your car doesn't get much use.
As we probably all have a little more time on our hands than usual, we have the opportunity to pamper the tyres! Give the wheels and tyres a clean to remove any brake dust, roadgrime and salt left on them (but don't use a pressure washer as it can damage the sidewall) and if you have some solvent free tyre dressing in the garage, now is the time to make them look real pretty, and also give them a little protection as some tyre dressings have UV blockers which help protect the tyres from the sun! Think of it as sun lotion for your rubber. While you're doing that, it's also worth giving the tyres a visual inspection to make there there are no unsightly cracks, tears, bulges or uneven wear, so make sure you check the inside shoulder, especially on BMWs like this.
While you're down there, check how much life is left in your tyres. If you haven't got a tread wear gauge, you can look for the tread wear indicators in the grooves of the tread, or even use the edge of a 20p coin (which actually measures 2.7mm, but it's a guide.) Legally the tyres have to be 1.6mm across the centre 75% of the tread, but once you drop below 3mm, the aquaplaning performance drops off rapidly, so put new tyres on the shopping list, and while you're writing things down, make sure all four wheels have valve caps, and if not, buy some of those too.
Tyres do not like sitting around with weight on them. A lack of movement short term isn't an issue, but once it starts getting into the weeks, and even months, you risk flat spotting your tyre. At best, this will feel a bit bumpy for the first few miles of driving while the tyre works itself into a tyre shape again, but at worst it can permanently damage the carcass of the tyre, and even eventually cause the tyre to fail, usually at high speed.
To combat this issue, the absolute pro level solution is to make sure your tyre pressures are set to the correct OE values, and get your car in the air, whether by garage lift, axle stands, or by using the good old fashioned force.
Assuming you don't have access to any of these things, or even if you do, you don't want to give the local criminals easy access to your wheels, let's move onto tip 3.
If you can't turn your car into a blimp, we'll need to do our best to combat the effects of the car's weight sitting motionless on the tyres. Part one of this is to overinflate the tyres to give them more support while the car sits around. Usually, around 15 psi / 1 bar over stock pressures is fine, but make sure not to go over the maximum recommended pressure on the tyres sidewall.
Also, to ensure you don't forget you've done this next time you use the car, be sure to stick a post-it note on the dash display reminding you to change the tyre pressures back to the OE setting before moving off
Now you've over inflated the tyres, you can help the car further by living it a little motion. If you can SAFELY roll the car backwards and forwards, do so by around 30cm / 12 inches every week. This will further help prevent flat spots.
It's important you do this without starting the car, just take the handbrake off and push. Starting the car for short periods will not only drain the battery super quickly, but it can also cause moisture to build in areas that really don't like moisture. Think of this as free exercise to help keep the lockdown pounds off.
As mentioned in tip 1, tyres don't really like the UV light from the sun, as it ages the rubber much like it ages our skin. If you can find a shady spot to keep your car, then leave it there, and bonus points if you can keep it in a garage, as this will help protect the tyres from extreme temperature changes, which is also helpful for prolonging a tyres life.
Lastly, if you're feeling particularly flush, you can always invest in a set of tyre trainers / savers. These are usually soft foam blocks, which contour to the tyres shape, which further help prevent flat spots and slightly protect the tyre from the temperature changes of the ground.
As with the tyres, it's a great time to visually inspect your car, check all the fluids are topped up, and check the battery is healthy to make sure you don't have any issues starting your car in the future.
If the car will sit around for more than a few weeks, it's a good idea to get the battery on a trickle charger to make doubly certain you have juice to start the car next time you want to go for a drive, and the alarm stays active.
Also it's worth noting that brake pads and brake discs have a very strange and intimate relationship. Sometimes, if you leave the handbrake on for a long amount of time, the brake pad can bond to the brake disc, which can leave the brakes vibrating, and generally being less efficient for a while when you start using the car again. To combat this you can buy a cheap set of wheel chocks, leave the car in gear, chock the wheels, and let the car rest with the handbrake disengaged. As with the over inflation, be sure to leave a note in the car to remind you that the chocks are there, and also, please don't try this on a hill.
And they're all my car care tips for leaving a car stationary.
I hope you've found this little guide useful, and it will inspire you to show your tyres the love and care they constantly show you. Don't forget, even if you haven't listened to anything I've said, PLEASE at least check your tyre pressures before using your car after a short break as tyres can lose pressure over time, and under inflated tyres are at best, bad for fuel economy and handling, and at worst, darn right dangerous as they can overheat and explode, usually at motorway speeds.