Tyre Safety month and winter tyres

Record rainfall in September and the promise of rain, ice and snow over the coming months means many people are beginning to plan ahead for winter – and you can do so too using our winter maintenance guide to keep your car in top condition.

Tyres are an important aspect of winter car maintenance and there are a number of ways you can ensure your tyres are ready for winter. But first, why is tyre safety important?

The importance of tyre safety

Keeping a tyre in good condition is a legal requirement in the UK. A worn tyre whose tread (the grooves running around the circumference of the tyre) is not 1.6mm or more is illegal on UK roads and drivers could be fined £2,500 per tyre and given three points if caught.

It is also illegal to drive on a damaged tyre with rips or tears and this will also result in prosecution. It is particularly dangerous if the tyres are worn at different rates, meaning the car will be more unstable as one tyre grips and another does not.

As well as legal repercussions, a worn or damaged tyre will make the car unsafe. Tyres provide grip on treacherous road conditions and can improve stopping distance, prevent skidding and offer stability through corners.

In wet weather, the tyre tread helps to move water from under the car and prevent the car aquaplaning – which occurs when the car travels on a film of water resulting in a loss of traction and control. In extreme cases this can cause a skid and potential accident.

This highlights the importance of a tread deep enough to push water outwards from under the tyre as the car is in motion.

In ice and snow, tyres will help to provide extra grip and prevent accidents.

Winter tyre checks

A number of tyre checks will help you to ensure the tyres are road legal and safe to drive on during winter. These checks can be carried out by an expert at a Perrys dealership by simply finding your nearest centre and booking a winter tyre check.

A tyre safety check will cover the following areas:

Tyre pressure –

The optimum tyre pressure for each car is different. You can find the ideal tyre pressure for your car in your manufacturer’s handbook or by asking an expert at a Perrys dealership.

Keeping tyre pressure at its optimum level is important because an under-inflated tyre could lead to uneven wear and tear on the tyre while an over-inflated tyre could lead to quicker wear and a loss of grip.

Worryingly, a recent survey by Bridgestone found 73 per cent of European motorists were driving on tyres that were not inflated correctly – a statistic highlighting the importance of a winter safety check.

Tyre condition –

A winter tyre check will ensure the tyre is not damaged and does not have rips or tears. It will also identify any objects embedded in the tyre such as nails to ensure the tyres are safe.

Tyre tread –

The legal limit for tyre tread is 1.6mm around three-quarters of the tyre itself. However, most manufacturers will recommend changing your tyres when it is 3mm. In winter weather, where grip is more difficult, it is important to have tread deep enough to cope with the conditions.

A simple test to check your tyre tread depth is the 20p test. Simple insert a 20p coin into the tread and if the outer part of the coin fits into the groove it is legally deep enough.

The survey by Bridgestone found 12 per cent of European drivers were driving on an illegal tread depth, putting theirs and others’ lives at risk.

Winter tyres

As winter approaches many drivers will consider buying winter tyres. In some European countries winter tyres are a legal requirement because of the prevalence of ice and snow during the winter months.

This is not the case in the UK but a number of ice and snow-filled winters has seen winter tyre popularity increase rapidly with UK drivers, particularly those in rural areas.

Winter tyres are a new set of tyres designed specifically to offer more grip and control in rain, snow and ice.

Made from a rubber compound, winter tyres do not harden in temperatures under seven degrees Celsius in the same way standard tyres do, helping to improve grip.

Winter tyres will also have deeper tread for wet conditions and help drivers grip better in snow and on ice.

Winter tyre prices vary by model and manufacturer but Perrys dealerships can advise on the best winter tyres for you.

Perrys can also advise on standard tyre storage, winter tyre fitting and the best times to fit winter tyres to get the most out of them.

While winter tyres are seen as expensive, it is important to remember the standard tyres are unused during the winter and therefore will not have to be replaced as quickly as if they were used during the winter months.

Winter tyre alternatives

There are some cheaper winter tyre alternatives available from Perrys Motors but most are a temporary solution.

Snow chains can be damaging to tyres and the roads and should only be used in extreme conditions such as deep snow. These are not recommended for everyday driving.

However snow socks, material covers that can be placed over tyres, can be purchased from Perrys from £50.

Vauxhall snow socks, for example, can be placed over a tyre to provide extra grip in snow provided the car is travelling at less than 50mph (recommended in snowy conditions anyway) and for distances of less than 50 miles.

Snow socks can also be easily stored in the car and used only when it is snowing. They can also be fitted by the driver, making them a more flexible option than winter tyres for those who are not expecting several days of heavy snow.

For more information on Tyre Safety month and winter tyre prices, tyre checks or anything else related to tyre safety, contact your nearest Perrys dealership today.