Monday, 14 December 2015

Driving home for Christmas..*

Many of us will be travelling this year on the roads to get to our destinations to spend time with loved ones over Christmas. I am thankful that I don’t have too far to travel; on the other hand my brother has to make his way home from Wales which is over 200 miles away.

Tyre

I’m going to tell you about a few tyre dilemmas I have had in the past. I was once driving down a small country lane when I managed to roll over a sharp piece of metal. I didn’t think anything was wrong until I noticed my car was struggling to turn the way I wanted and was making a horrible sound. I pulled over at the side of the road to find a large dent and a tear in my tyre. Thankfully I have breakdown cover so got towed home and had to then get my tyre replaced but this was a costly expense that I could have done without. I often drive along country lanes so it is vital I keep on top of my tyre health.

On another occasion I was happily driving along with the music turned up and the lady in the car behind kept flashing her lights at me. I pulled over and realised my tyre was practically hanging from the alloy! The music has covered up the sound of the scraping. Turns out I had a massive screw poking out which had flattened my tyre and I had continued to drive with it flat until I completely ruined it. On went the spare until I once again replaced it.

Tyre

I now have a Toyota Aygo and I am yet to have any tyre malfunctions (touch wood!) but I know if I do I can easily get my tyres replaced. Point S is a great website that has a wide variety of car tyres in all sizes and from all the top brands available at really competitive prices. I personally use Continental tyres which cost only £50.96 with Point S which is great compared to what I have paid in the past. I love that you can reserve the tyres online along with a tyre fitting appointment at your nearest Point S depot. My nearest depot is less than 3 miles away which is ideal for when I inevitably need new tyres.

Tyre

When I completed a driving course recently I was introduced to the acronym 'FLOWER', standing for fuel, lights, oil, water, electrics, and rubber. This will help you remember the basic checks that you should be carrying out regularly and especially before a long journey.

Car safety is paramount to me and in my line of work I often come across people driving without road-worthy tyres and these mistakes can cost lives. This year if you are driving home for Christmas, make sure you follow these top tips to ensure your safe arrival.

Fuel – Check that you have enough fuel to cover your journey or for really long journeys fill up your tank and make sure you re-fill it again well before it drops into the red in case you don’t come across a fuel station for a few miles. If it’s snowing and you run out of petrol it won’t be ideal being stuck in the cold!

Lights - Test all of your lights before setting off to ensure your bulbs are all working and that there are no cracks in the lenses. Also make sure they are clean and not obscured with dirt. Having a light out is not only dangerous, it can also get you a ticket or a VDRS slip (Vehicle Defect Rectification Scheme) from the police if they notice a defect on your vehicle. You will be required to get the defect fixed as soon as possible and to provide suitable evidence within 14 days that you have done so. If you fail to do so you will face the prospect of prosecution, points on your licence and a fine.

Oil - Make sure your oil levels are topped up above the minimum lines. Don’t forget to also check your coolant levels and anti-freeze for the upcoming cold months. This prevents the engine from overheating and failing.

Water - Top up your water in your car – this includes wiper fluid. Make sure your windscreen is clear from dirt/debris and that you can see out of it before setting off. If your screen has misted up, wait for it to completely de-mist before starting your journey.

Electrics – Battery problems can be the number one cause of breakdowns. Renew old batteries before they let you down. Make sure your electric radiator cooling fan starts running when the engine is hot.

Rubber - Before you set off you need to ensure your tyres are safer and roadworthy. The minimum legal tread depth for tyres is 1.6mm but it is recommended you maintain a depth of at least 3mm. Worn tyres affect your stopping distance and can cause you to lose control in wet weather which is likely this winter. They can also cause you to use more fuel. Stopping distances increase in the rain and snow so please take this into account. Also make sure your tyre pressure is correct and tyres are pumped up correctly. Your handbook will give you the recommended guide which may differ if you are carrying extra passengers. As the driver you are responsible for ensuring the vehicle you are driving is maintained in a roadworthy condition. Ensure your windscreen wiper blades are working and they are not split or worn.


Bonus tip
Plan your journey – Make sure before you set off that you know what route you will be taking. Make sure you take into account traffic if you are travelling during the rush hour period. Plan alternative routes in case there are any disruptions along the way. Pack a blanket, water and snacks in case of any delays.

I hope these tips will help you when driving home this Christmas. Stay safe!

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