Arguably, making sure that all of your tyres, including the spare, are up to scratch is even more important during the winter months as you're more likely to face a wide variety of driving conditions, ranging from heavy rain and sleet, to snow and ice. Don't have a breakdown this winter, make sure that you're prepared for the worst of the British weather.
Outside of having maintenance inspections carried out by a trained mechanic, it's incredibly important to check your vehicle's tyres on a regular basis. According to industry safety group TyreSafe, your car's tyres should be checked at least once a month and before any long journey. Start off by testing the pressure of each tyre, including the spare if your car has one. This can be done at home if you have an accurate pump and gauge, or at most petrol stations.
It's also important to check that each tyre has adequate tread. This is not only a legal requirement (legal minimum is 1.6mm), it is essential for good grip when roads are wet. Aim for at least 3mm of tread across three-quarters of a tyre's width. If you do not have sufficient tread available then the tyres will not be able to effectively displace surface water, leading to an increased risk of aquaplaning.
When checking your tyres, remember to carry out a thorough visual inspection too. Look for bumps, cuts, bulges and general damage that could affect the tyre's performance. Also keep an eye out for foreign objects that may have become embedded in the surface and could cause problems with tyre pressure.
As the UK typically avoids the kind of hard winters faced by motorists across Europe, owning a set of winter tyres is not seen as a necessity. That said, there is no questioning the ability of winter tyres in terms of the additional grip they're able to offer, and how that can transform your driving experience when tackling snow or ice.
Winter tyres are specifically designed to provide extra traction in cold temperatures as they use a softer rubber compound and have lots of small indents that grip slippery road surfaces. They also have deeper treads than typical 'summer' tyres and in wintery conditions snow will fill these treads and create additional traction.
Some of the drawbacks of fitting winter tyres to your car include cost, and the inconsistency of winter weather in the UK. If temperatures happen to rise, they will offer considerably less grip than a standard summer tyre, resulting in less traction on normal road surfaces and increased stopping distances.
Alternatives To Full Winter Tyres
Snow chains and snow socks are becoming increasingly popular as quick-fit alternatives to full winter tyres. These devices are designed to work well on packed snow and will provide enhanced levels of grip, allowing much more control over a vehicle. Chains are better at handling more difficult conditions, while textile socks tend to be quicker to fit. Once conditions improve, it's important to remember to remove chains and socks, as driving on cleared or gritted surfaces will cause damage to the road and the product. It's also important that you're confident about fitting these devices before they're needed. The last thing you'll want to be doing when caught in a snow storm is trying to figure out how your new snow chains actually fit onto the car's tyres. Plan ahead, know how the item works and make sure it is easily accessible.
Dealing With The Extremes
It's important to have an understanding not only of your own driving ability, but of your car's limits. Making informed decisions before setting off in poor weather is essential, and it's always best to err on the side of caution rather than risk getting caught out and stranded. During the winter it is always worth carrying an emergency breakdown kit in your car, just in case. Items likely to come in handy include long-life food and water, warm clothes, a blanket, torch and a shovel.
More Than Safety
When it comes to the condition of your tyres, safety is obviously the most important consideration. However, by preserving the quality and performance of your vehicle's black circles, you'll also be helping to increase fuel efficiency and improve handling. Good quality tyres that are correctly inflated and properly aligned and balanced will last longer, ensure the vehicle is easier to control, minimise the risk of damage and lead to a more enjoyable driving experience.
Peace Of Mind With A £9.99 Pentagon Winter Check
By far the simplest way of ensuring that your vehicle is ready to handle whatever the British winter can throw at it, is to pay a visit to your nearest Pentagon dealership. Opt for our £9.99 Winter Safety Check and a manufacturer-trained technician will not only ensure your tyres are all up to scratch, they'll check everything from your key fluid levels and battery to your lights and windscreen wipers.