Monday, 17 July 2017

The Importance of Having Safe Tyres*

My car is due its yearly service in a couple of weeks and I cannot stress the importance of having this done. Since owning newer cars I have made it a necessity to get a service completed to keep them in check during their first three years before the MOT is due.

A few years ago now I had an older car. I would take it to have an MOT once a year and that would be that until the year after. I never did anything in-between and one day I certainly learned my lesson. About 7 years ago now, I was driving along a country road when I came across a slight wet patch in the road. My car skidded and then hit something at the side of the road. I carried on driving further up and noticed my car did not feel right. When I got to the next junction, my car struggled to pull away so I pulled up in a safe area. My tyre had completely torn and was not roadworthy. I had to get the AA to come and change it for me, they told me that if I would have got my car serviced and had my tyres regularly changed then this would not have happened. The tyre had worn right down meaning it did not have as much grip on the road which caused me to skid. This experience was not a nice one for me and I did feel scared. I am so pleased that I now regularly service my car and check my tyre tread.


If you are a driver then you should be aware of basic car maintenance tips to keep your vehicle in check between visits to the garage. I am going to outline some basic tips which will be able to help you and ensure your safety on the road. When I did a recent driving course, they taught me the FLOWER method to check a vehicle as follows:

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.

Oils - 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. Checking the engine oil is relatively simple, even I can do it! You are often taught how to do this on your driving test. If your car does not have enough oil then the engine can be at serious risk of damage. You should check your oil levels once a fortnight and top up when needed. To check the oil levels make sure the engine is cool and that your car is not parked on a hill. Remove the oil dipstick and wipe clean with a cloth. Re-insert the dipstick fully, pull it out again and check that the level is between the two lines. Engine coolant helps to remove excess heat from your car’s engine. If coolant levels get low, your engine can overheat and cause serious damage. It is a good idea to check coolant levels before a long journey. Locate the engine coolant reservoir and check that the level is between the min and max marks. If it needs to be topped up, make sure the engine has completely cooled off.

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. If you are looking to buy cheap reliable tyres (London and other areas) , you can get them from DAT Tyres. 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.

I hope these tips will help you on your next journey and help you to continue having a smooth ride.


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