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The five extra minutes could save your life

Tyre fitment centres offer an array of services that contribute to the safety of your vehicle and the longevity of your tyres.

Buying tyres or component parts for your car is often a grudge purchase, and for most people, visiting a tyre fitment centre does not have the same appeal as browsing through a hardware store for new gadgets.

“The reality is that few people visit a tyre shop for a general shopping experience. We visit because we have a problem – either a tyre failure, worn tyres or our car is behaving badly,” says Les Richardson, vice-chairperson of the Tyre, Equipment, Parts Association (TEPA), which is an association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).

This results in one wanting to get what we need done and get out of there as fast as possible.

“With more and more motorists keeping their cars for longer and having to navigate the many potholes and obstacles on our roads, it is worth asking the salesman to check some of the other key component parts on your car.”

It is five minutes that cost nothing but could potentially save your life.

“Professionals that are passionate about their job staff most tyre shops and want what is best for their customers. Often the sound you hear, like a slow slapping noise, while driving, may be caused by a flat spot on the tread pattern of your tyre caused by harsh braking or similar, but worth noting, that a worn shock absorber can also create flat spots. Rather, take five minutes to explore all possible causal options.”

Worn shock absorbers are dangerous and affect the way the car handles when cornering or braking.

“Often we don’t realise the slow decline and get used to the symptoms rather than taking action,” says Richardson.

If your front shocks are worn and you have to brake hard, not only will the front of the car dip forward, but the weight is then dispersed unevenly at the back, which could result in skidding and other issues.

Richardson says if you pick up a slight brake shudder while braking lightly, this may have nothing to do with the brakes but be related to suspension worn-out components.

“Fortunately, although a common problem, it is not an expensive fix.

“Worn windscreen wipers cause impaired visibility when driving in the rain.”

Richardson says fitment centres have changed and many have pleasant customer hospitality areas.

“So why not, when you pop in to rotate and balance your tyres every 8 000 to 10 000 km, grab a cup of coffee and allow one of the fitment guys to check out the car? Maybe he could give you a head-up on a possible impending problem before it becomes an issue.”

We all know the adage that prevention is better than cure.

“In this case, more cost-effective too. A set of brake pads may cost a few hundred rands, but sorting this timeously is cheaper than replacing worn discs that may have been caused by allowing the pads to wear too far. Or worse still, cause an accident,” he says.

It is also not uncommon to see a car driving at an angle.

“We call this ‘crabbing’. A poor panel beating repair or similar, or a few bolts that have loosened over time or pothole damage that has caused parts of the suspension to shift. Your local TEPA-accredited repair shop can fix this relatively inexpensively.”

Richardson says it is important to do these quick overall checks ad hoc or especially before setting out on your holiday trip when your car may be more loaded and these small niggles that you have grown to live with over time now manifest into a bigger, more dangerous problem.

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