A grudge purchase that could save your life

Taking your car to the tyre shop could be the best decision for you and your family’s safety, as it might alert you to other issues with your vehicle.

Buying tyres or car parts is often seen as a grudge purchase. As Les Richardson, the vice chairperson of the Tyre, Equipment, Parts Association (Tepa), a proud Retail Motor Industry Organisation association, explains: “Very few people visit a tyre shop for a general shopping experience. We go because we have a problem – whether it’s a tyre failure, worn tyres or a car that’s not behaving correctly. With more motorists keeping their cars longer and dealing with road hazards like potholes, it’s worthwhile asking the salesperson to do a quick check of other key components on your car.”

It’s a five-minute check that costs nothing, but that could save your life. “Most tyre shops are staffed by professionals who are passionate about their job and want the best for their customers. For example, a slow slapping noise while driving could be caused by a flat spot on your tyre tread from harsh braking. But remember, a worn shock absorber can also create flat spots. So, take five minutes to explore all possible causes.”

Worn shock absorbers are dangerous and affect your car’s handling when cornering or braking. “Often, we don’t realise the slow decline and simply 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 will be unevenly distributed at the back, potentially causing skidding and other issues.

Richardson advises that a slight brake shudder while braking lightly may not be related to the brakes, but rather to worn suspension components. Fortunately, although common, this is not an expensive fix.

It’s not just tyres and shock absorbers that should be checked. “You may not have used your wipers for a while. Worn wipers cause impaired visibility in the rain. So, if the eager salesman had inspected your car, he might have spotted this issue, saving you trouble when it rains.”

Fitment centres have evolved, and many now offer pleasant customer hospitality areas. “When you go in to rotate and balance your tyres every 8 000 to 10 000km, grab a cup of coffee and let a fitment professional check your car. They might alert you to potential problems before they become serious. Prevention is better than cure. In this case, it’s more cost-effective too. Replacing brake pads costs a few hundred rand, but timely replacement is cheaper than replacing worn discs caused by letting the pads wear too far, or worse, causing an accident,” Richardson explains.

Seeing a car driving at an angle, known as ‘crabbing’, might be due to poor panel beating or loose bolts from pothole damage. Your local Tepa-accredited repair shop can fix this relatively inexpensively.

“Many of us can’t afford to replace our vehicles as often as we used to, so take time to visit your local Tepa-accredited fitment centre for small ‘health’ checks. This will help your investment last longer and keep you and your loved ones safer.”

Source: Cathy Findley PR / Photos: Caxton library


Related Articles

Back to top button