Winter has arrived and while you may already be rocking a cool scarf and boots combo, have you given a second thought to your car tyres?
You wouldn’t dream of stepping outside in the rain or snow in your fluffy slippers, so is it any surprise your car tyres could be equally ill-equipped to deal with winter weather conditions?
When it comes to your safety on the roads during the winter months, your tyres should be a number one priority. Denna Bowman, from etyres (http://www.etyres.co.uk/), a leading online mobile tyre fitting retailer, explains how to make sure your tyres can handle whatever the winter has to throw at them for the next six months, whether it’s buckets of rain, blankets of snow or sheets of ice.
Your first priority is to make sure you have at least the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tyre, around its entire circumference. For a start, this keeps you on the right side of the law, however, most motoring and safety experts recommend you replace your tyres once they wear below 3mm, especially in the winter months, because after this their performance starts to deteriorate.
Tread depth is essential for good grip on wet roads, because the deeper the tread pattern the more water can be removed from between the tyre and the road surface. If this doesn’t happen you are likely to experience aquaplaning, a terrifying motoring sensation which feels like you are skating on ice and occurs when your tyres loose contact with the road surface and you have no control over your steering or braking.
Cope under pressure
When it gets colder your tyre pressure drops so it is very important to make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct level in order to lower the risks of skidding in icy conditions. If your tyres are under or over-inflated it will have an adverse effect on your vehicles handling and performance. Under-inflated tyres are more likely to suffer from a blowout, while over-inflated tyres result in less contact with the road, amounting to less grip.
You should check your pressure at least once a month, when your tyres are cold, i.e. they have not been used in the last two hours or they have covered less than two miles at low speeds. You can find out the right tyre pressures for your car in the handbook, on a sticker inside the fuel filler flap or the driver’s door.
Warm to the idea of winter tyres
It is a common misconception that winter tyres are only worth fitting when the roads are covered with snow and ice, but this is not true. Winter tyres really come into their own once temperatures drop below 7C, which is already happening across the UK, this is because they don’t harden like regular tyres, so they retain their grip and performance. They also have tread designs which makes them more efficient at clearing road surface water and minimising the risk of the dreaded aquaplaning.
Fitting winter tyres is a very smart move, especially if you need to be able to drive your car in virtually all weather conditions. They are also a no-brainer if you live in an area prone to suffering problems in severe weather conditions, such as being snowed in on a side road which never sees a pinch of salt, even when the council gritters are out in force.
Any accidents you are involved in because your tyres could not handle the adverse weather conditions may lead to an increase in your insurance premium – which should be another massive incentive to make sure your tyres can cope this winter.
The fact is, rain, snow and ice can turn the safest road into a treacherous driving arena and your car – and in particular, your tyres – needs to be ready to battle all the elements.
So as you wrap up and venture outside in your winter woolies, remember to make sure your car is equally well attyred!