Punctures leaving drivers deflated
BY JULIA WADE
An ongoing inflation of numbers of deflated tyres has struck some Mangawhai residents hard in time, patience and in the pocket. Since July last year a sharp increase has been noted in the number of drivers experiencing ongoing multiple-tyre punctures caused by stones while travelling on local gravel roads.
While the occasional flat tyre is to be expected as part of the Kaipara lifestyle where 72 per cent of roads are metal, Mangawhai Tyres spokesperson, Bee Tipene, says they have seen an increase in customers repeatedly coming in with stone-punctured tyres in the last six months.
“It’s shocking, every single day we see the same people coming back in almost weekly with multiple punctures, caused mainly from metal roads,” she says. “Pebblebrook, Browns, Lawrence and Cames [roads] are the most brutal and we get about four a week from Tara Iti, Black Swamp Road.”
At $25 per tyre repair and with new tyres ranging from $125 to $700, people who either live on or are frequent users of gravel roads, face ongoing and for some, weekly repair costs.
One motorist who visits Te Arai twice a week and has experienced repetitive punctures, seven over eight weeks, says she has not had another since driving a different route to avoid the first 800 metres of Black Swamp Road that Kaipara District Council (KDC) grades. Auckland Council are responsible for maintenance of the remainder of the road.
However the frustration of multiple flats does not appear to be caused by just one type of rock or affecting only Mangawhai drivers. Tyre companies in Whangarei, Dargaville and Wellsford report an increase in multiple punctures after roads have been graded, despite the councils using different stones. KDC generally uses AP 30 [All Passing 30mm] aggregate, Auckland Council grades with GAP [General All Passing] 20, 40 and 65, and Whangarei District uses a sedimentary rock ‘graywacke’.
While an increase in the amount of stones on a metal road post-grading increases the chances of multiple punctures, tyre company spokespeople theorise other causable factors including stones becoming dry and sharper due to not enough water on fresh graded roads, larger ‘gnarly rocks’ are the ‘worst enemy to a tyre’, an ‘extremely hard’ stone called ‘blue chip’, and driving too fast on gravel which ‘only exaggerates the problem’.
Kaipara’s metal roads are maintained through KDC’s contractor, industrial corporate Broadspectrum [BST] with aggregate sourced from Atlas Quarries, Brynderwyn. In reply to questions about stones, Atlas referred response to KDC’s contractors BST, who in turn directed questions regarding the grading process to the KDC.
KDC spokesperson Ben Hope says the roads in question were last gradered in late November 2018.
“We have received no other complaints on tyre punctures on any of those roads… and in recent months have only had one person notifying council of an issue along Black Swamp,” he says. “Our roading inspector went out to inspect the road and was happy with the condition of it against our standards.”
While reparation for punctures is not on offer by KDC, road users who have multiple punctures can contact their insurance companies Hope says.
“Council can only advise motorists on the Kaipara network to drive to the conditions. Consideration should be given to purchasing suitable tyres for the type of roads regularly travelled, as not all tyres are designed for all terrain or unsealed road use.”
Four wheel drive, SUV or ute tyres have a commercial application, which makes them stronger and able to carry more weight and moreso resistant to stone penetration than a normal car tyre.
Mangawhai Tyres also advise drivers who frequently travel on freshly gradered stones, to check their tyre pressure regularly, keeping tyres well-inflated with a good depth of tread, and to drive at slower speeds along Kaipara’s vast metal roads.
Sharp roading stones: Public enemy number one for Mangawhai drivers and guilty of causing an epidemic of multiple-tyre punctures in recent months.
“Council can only advise motorists on the Kaipara network to drive to the conditions. Consideration should be given to purchasing suitable tyres for the type of roads… not all tyres are designed for all terrain or unsealed road use.”
- Ben Hope, KDC