Check your tyres and celebrate Christmas safely

Check your tyres and celebrate Christmas safely

03 Dec

By Gwyn Fennell

The holidays are almost upon us, and many of you will be using the car to visit friends and family over the festive period. While we’re all excited for the break, and perhaps distracted with buying presents and having fun, it’s worth remembering that the days are more dark than light, very cold, often wet, and potentially icy. As such, the time is right to emphasise the importance of making time to check your tyres.

With this in mind, the tyre professionals at Protyre offer these top tyre tips, to help keep you safer on the road this Christmas.

Good tread depth matters

The tyre professionals at Protyre, and premium tyre manufacturer, Continental, both recommend that your tyres have a minimum of 3 mm of tread depth. The more tread you have, the more grip they’ll achieve, particularly in wet, rainy conditions – like those we usually get in the UK at Christmas time.

These vital grooves expel the water from between tyres and the road, providing the essential grip you need to stay safe. The more tread depth you have, the quicker water can be removed. Tyre tread depth effects your stopping distances, so if you want to be able to break sooner – and reduce the chances of going into the back of another vehicle – make sure your tyres have as much tread depth as possible.

At the very least, your tyres need to have 1.6 mm of tread depth – the UK road legal minimum – otherwise they’re illegal. Don’t forget, at this time of year there’s police activity on the roads, as they undertake increased stops for possible drink driving offences. If you’re pulled over with illegal tyres, you’re at risk of incurring a fine of £2,500, and 3 points on your licence for EACH tyre that fails a tread depth test.

You can avoid this possibility completely by ensuring your tyre tread depth is legal. Either get hold of a tread depth gauge, or have a go at the “20p test”. It’s quick, and very easy. Simply place the coin in your tyre tread at various points along its length. If you can see the outer band of the coin face at any point, it’s possible that the tread isn’t deep enough, and probably illegal. If that’s the case, get some new replacement tyres immediately.

The right tyre pressures are essential

Your pressures are vital for improving driver safety. This is especially the case during the periods of cold, wet weather we typically experience each December. Just like your tread depths, if the pressures aren’t correct you’re at increased risk of having an accident. Why? Because the right pressures allow for optimal contact between your tyres and the road – and that means you’ll have better – safer – grip. Conversely, if your tyres are not correctly inflated – whether under or over inflated – they simply won’t be able to perform at their optimal best.

Checking your pressures is easy, and can be done either by yourself at service stations for just a small fee. Alternatively, you can pop into your local Protyre garage and get one of the tyre professionals to take a look. They’ll be happy to do so, and can also provide you with experienced, impartial tyre advice.

Protyre have hundreds of garages all over the UK, find your nearest one here:

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If you choose to check your pressures yourself, it’s straight forward enough. Simply remove the valve dust cover, and attach the air hose nozzle to your tyre. Then top up or release the air, until the pressures are correct for all wheels. The correct pressure values can typically be found either printed on the inside of the fuel cap, or inside the driver door.

Look out for signs of tyre damage

Most – if not all – tyre retailers will be closed for part of the festive holiday period. Like you, they too want time off to celebrate and enjoy time with their friends and family. As a result, if you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself urgently needing a replacement tyre during the Christmas period, you could well struggle to find one. That means your travels plans could be thrown into chaos. The best way to avoid this is to regularly check your tyres for any signs of damage. This well go some way to minimising the risk of sustaining a slow puncture, rip, tear or blowout.

With damaged tyres, there’s also the very real danger of experiencing an accident. Driving in cold, wet, often slippy roads only exacerbates the possibility. By checking your tyres for the signs of damage you have a very good chance of nipping potential problems in the bud, before they get any worse – and potentially life threatening.

They’re called winter tyres for a reason

While no one needs reminding of just how cold it can get in the UK at Christmas time, when it comes to tyres it’s worth remembering. The high likelihood of rain means the threat of ice is all to real. Your usual summer tyres aren’t designed to perform at their best with either at this time of year, when the temperature gets down to 7°C and below. Why? Because the compounds they’re made from are optimised for much warmer conditions.
That’s why many tyre manufacturers, like Continental, and retailers, like Protyre, offer drivers winter tyres.

When the temperature settles at 7°C and below, you’d be wise to switch fit them to your vehicle. Why switch to winter tyres? Because the compounds that they’re made from are optimised to perform at their very best at low, winter temperatures, providing smart drivers with the essential grip they need to stay safer on the road. And don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re only for driving in snowy conditions – it’s not true. While it’s true that they perform better on snow than summer tyres, the real reason for switching to winter tyres is temperature.
It’s why so many of our European cousins fit winter tyres every year – and it doesn’t snow there all of the time, does it? No wonder that winter tyres, like Continental’s award winning WinterContact™ TS 860, are so popular over there, and highly regarded by independent tyre experts over here.

All-season tyres

Another alternative to summer tyres during the Christmas period is all-season tyres. As a hybrid of summer and winter tyres, they offer some of the warm and cold temperature characteristics of these dedicated tyres. But, good as they are, it’s not entirely the best of both worlds. One compound can’t do the job of two completely, so they’ll never surpass the originals, but – for driving in cold temperatures – tyres like Continental’s award winning AllSeasonContact™ will perform better than your usual summer ones.

The fifth element

Don’t forget, your vehicle probably has five tyres, not four. All of these tips apply to this tyre too. Look after your spare tyre, and it will look after you.

Looking for your next set of tyres? Buy online at protyre and save £££s!

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