Where’s the MOT certificate? What do you mean, you think it was due in May?
These are just a select two (of the few suitable to repeat) questions I asked my husband last week. Turns out, the MOT on the car isn’t actually due until November, so my panic was wasted. It occurred to me though that as much as I love trying new cars out, I don’t actually contribute anything to the upkeep of the car, and know very little about cars in general. Last time I took the car for an MOT I had to have two new tyres (ouch, said my purse) and as the mechanic showed me what was wrong with them, I just nodded along with him, completely clueless.
Keeping safe on the road means driving with care and attention at all times. However, how many of us can honestly say that we have taken care with our tyres recently? Attentiveness with tyres not only means that you will be able to drive with a greater degree of safety when behind the wheel but with greater fuel economy, too. Ultimately, of course, it becomes necessary to exchange your car or van’s tyres for new ones because they are no longer up to the job of keeping you safe. This is especially so for motorcyclists who rely on the traction of just two wheels, not four.
Tyre Safety Tips
Tread Wear Indicators, or TWIs, are by far the best way of checking a vehicle’s tyres for excessive wear. A visual inspection can work, especially if you insert the rim of a twenty pence coin into the tyre’s tread to see how much has worn away. Nonetheless, a TWI is a gadget which is much more accurate and that does the job in no time. Always confirm the tread in multiple positions on the tyre and make sure that each tyre is checked, not just one or two. To stay safe, replace your tyres well before they reach their legal limit.
When filling up at the petrol station, take time to fill up on air pressure. This is something I’ve never even tried to do myself, and I’ve been told off by the husband for having tyres that need pumping up! Over inflated and under inflated tyres both have safety implications, so it is worth making the effort. Under inflated tyres, for example, can prevent you from braking properly and even make swerving to avoid debris dangerous.
Lastly, look out for cracks on the side walls of your tyres. Bulges are also warning signs that the tyre is no longer in good condition and needs to be exchanged. If you don’t do so, the chances are that you will suffer a blowout – a dangerous outcome if it happens at high speed – and I don’t fancy one of those on a motorway with two kids in the back!
Tyre Buying Tips
When buying a new tyre, reserve them online with a dealership like Point S which allows you to do so. If you turn up at a local garage, the range of choice is usually limited to just one or two tyre makers and you don’t always get the best deal as a result.
It is important to buy correctly sized tyres and ones that are compatible with each other. Tyres do not, however, need to be all from the same manufacturer in order to be street legal and safe. You can tell what size of tyre you need by consulting the code on your current set which you should be able to read on the side of one of them.
For drivers who travel a lot in snowy and cold conditions, fitting a set of winter tyres is often recommended. These tyres are perfectly okay to drive on the road during the summer, but they come into their own when it is icy. Having small spikes, or sipes, winter tyres afford greater grip and control in the snow. They are more flexible than fitting snow chains and do not restrict your speed. I won’t drive in the snow since I lost control of the car on black ice when I was pregnant with my youngest. Good job I don’t live in a place that gets a lot of it.
Do you know your way around a car?