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Hot Wheels; How to Mitigate the Risks in Extreme Heat

February 2024 is set to be the hottest summer on record for Perth, as another heatwave approaches. The city has had a scorching summer, having already reached six days above 40C so far. As Australian motorists, we’re no strangers to the challenges presented by driving in scorching temperatures. The unforgiving heat of the Australian summer not only tests our resilience but also places considerable strain on our vehicles, particularly our tyres.

As the mercury rises, so too does the stress on the rubber compounds and internal components of our tyres, making them vulnerable to damage and deterioration. It’s a familiar sight and smell on hot asphalt roads—the unmistakable odour of hot rubber permeating the air—a tell-tale sign that our tyres are feeling the heat. For those attuned to the nuances of vehicle maintenance, this smell serves as a warning, prompting us to pay closer attention to the condition of our tyres. Indeed, the smell of hot rubber can be more than just a nuisance; it can be a crucial indicator that our tyres are in need of inspection and potentially, intervention.

In this article, we’ll delve into the implications of driving in extreme heat on tyre health and explore the significance of detecting the scent of hot rubber while on the road and how to mitigate risks.

Key Risks of Driving in Extreme Heat

  • Overheating: High temperatures can cause tyres to overheat, which can lead to a significant decrease in tire life and performance. When tyres become overheated, the rubber compounds can degrade more quickly, increasing the likelihood of blowouts or tread separation.
  • Increased Air Pressure: As temperatures rise, the air inside tyres expands, causing an increase in air pressure. If the air pressure exceeds the recommended levels for the tyre, it can result in decreased traction, reduced handling, and an increased risk of tyre failure.
  • Accelerated Wear and Tear: Extreme heat can accelerate the wear and tear of tyre tread, leading to reduced tread depth and traction. This can compromise the tyre’s ability to grip the road surface, especially in wet or slippery conditions, increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Dry Rotting: Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can cause the rubber compounds in tyres to deteriorate and dry out, leading to dry rotting. Dry rotting weakens the structural integrity of the tyre, making it more susceptible to punctures, cracks, and other forms of damage.
  • Reduced Performance: In extreme heat, tyre performance may be compromised, resulting in decreased handling, braking, and cornering capabilities. This can increase the likelihood of accidents and reduce overall vehicle safety.

How to Mitigate Risks and Ensure Safe Driving

  • Monitor Tyre Pressure: Regularly check tyre pressure and adjust it as needed to ensure it remains within the recommended range specified by the vehicle manufacturer.
  • Inspect Tyres Regularly: Conduct visual inspections of tyres for signs of damage, wear, or dry rotting. Replace any tyres that show signs of deterioration or damage.
  • Avoid Overloading: Avoid overloading the vehicle, as this can increase the stress placed on tyres and lead to overheating and premature wear.
  • Drive Carefully: Drive at moderate speeds and avoid sudden maneuvers, especially on hot roads, to reduce the risk of overheating and tyre failure.
  • Park in Shade: Whenever possible, park the vehicle in the shade or use sunshades to reduce the temperature inside the vehicle and minimize heat-related damage to tyres.
  • Use Quality Tyres: Invest in high-quality tyres designed to withstand extreme temperatures and provide optimal performance in hot conditions.

By taking these precautions and staying vigilant, drivers can help mitigate the risks associated with driving in extremely hot temperatures and ensure the safety and longevity of their tyres.

Stay cool, stay safe!

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