With Ireland’s long, dark cold nights now upon us, and Christmas rapidly approaching, it’s a good time to remind readers of the importance of finding time to check your tyres. Giving your tyres a once over makes matters. After all, if they aren’t up to scratch, and fit for purpose, you won’t be able to drive – so how are you going get out and about this Christmas?
Here’s are Advance Pitstop’s top tips for ensuring you’re safer on the road this festive period.
Ensure that all of your tyres have good tread depth
Advance Pitstop and Continental – the world’s leading premium tyre maker – recommend that your tyres have a minimum tread depth of 3 mm. The more you have, the better, especially in the wet weather conditions we often experience in Ireland at this time of year. Good tyre tread depth is important, since it’s these vital grooves that remove the water from between your tyres and the road, in turn providing you with essential grip to keep you safer while driving. And of course the more grip you have, the shorter your braking stopping distances will be.
At the very least, your tyres must have 1.6 mm of tread depth – the Irish road legal minimum – otherwise they’re illegal. You don’t want to be caught on illegal tyres. Don’t forget, at this time of year there’s increased vigilance on the roads from the Garda, as they’re on the look out for drink driving offences. If they pull you over with illegal tyres, you risk both a fine and three points on your licence – for EACH offending tyre.
You can avoid this possibility – and a potentially problematic Christmas – by making sure your tyre tread depth is legal very easily. Either get a tread depth gauge, or do the ”€1 Test”. All you have to do is place the coin in your tyre tread at multiple points along its length. If you can see the outer band of the coin at any point, it means the tread is too shallow, and probably illegal. Alternatively, for fast, easy to see visual inspection, fit Continental premium tyres, all of which come with TWIs – Tread Wear Indicators – at both 3 mm and 1.6 mm (series 5 and above tyres).
Having the correct pressures mean your tyres can perform at their best
Your tyre pressures are vitally important for safer driving, especially during the cold, wet weather we typically experience in December. And just like with tread depth, if your pressures aren’t right, drivers are at greater risk of having an accident – and nobody wants that – let alone at Christmas time – do they? Having the correct pressures helps to ensure an optimal contact between your tyres and the road, resulting in better, safer grip. If your tyres are incorrectly under or over inflated, they simply can’t perform at their optimum – and that’s dangerous.
Checking your pressures is easy. You can do so yourself simply enough. Many local garages and service stations have tyre pressure facilities, available for just a small fee. Alternatively, you can get your local Advance Pitstop to take a look. Our team of tyre professionals are more than happy to do so, and they can also offer you experienced, impartial tyre advice and fitting solutions.
If you decide to check the pressures yourself, all you have to do is remove the valve dust cover, then attach the air hose nozzle to the tyre. Next, top up or release air, as appropriate, until the pressures are correct for all of your wheels. You’ll find the correct tyre pressure values for your specific vehicle type either printed on the inside of the inside of the fuel cap, or driver door.
Avoid serious tyre damage with regular inspections
You don’t want to have to find a new tyre over the Christmas period. Most – if not all – tyre retailers will be closed during the festive period. If you can’t get hold of one, it could impact on your travel plans – not only throwing them into chaos. Serious tyre damage can be avoided through regular checks. If you catch a problem early, you’ll nip it in the bud, and save yourself a lot of trouble down the line. You don’t want to sustain a slow puncture, rip, tear, or blowout – let alone at Christmas!
There’s also the very real danger of having an accident if you drive on damaged tyres. Cold, wet, often slippy roads only exacerbate the possibility. If you check your tyres regularly for the first signs of damage, you stand a very good chance of spotting them, before they become serious and life threatening.
Fitting the right tyre for winter makes a difference
It can get very cold in Ireland at Christmas time, right? Added to the high probability of rain, that means a threat of ice, too. Standard summer tyres aren’t designed to perform at their best in temperatures of 7°C and below, because of the compounds they’re made from are made for much warmer conditions.
That’s why some tyre manufacturers, like Continental, offer drivers winter tyres. Why switch to winter tyres? Because their specially formulated compounds mean they perform at their optimum in low temperatures. As a result, drivers have the essential grip they need on the road. Remember those TV images of cars unable to grip the road, and sliding uncontrollably in icy conditions? That’s how easily the best laid Christmas travel plans can be dashed.
And don’t make the common mistake of thinking that winter tyres are just for driving on snow. It’s simply not true. While it is the case that they’ll perform much better on snow than summer tyres, the real reason for switching to winter tyres is the cold weather temperature. It’s the reason why so many drivers on the European mainland fit winter tyres every year – and it doesn’t snow there all of the time, does it?
The AllSeasonContact™ – a tyre for all-seasons
Another alternative to summer tyres during the cold months is all-season tyres. Relatively new to the market, they’re a a hybrid of summer and winter tyres. As such, they offer drivers some of the best qualities of warm and cold temperature versions. However, as good as they are, they’re not quite the best of both worlds, since one compound simply can’t do the job of two entirely. But for driving in cold temperatures, tyres like Continental’s award winning AllSeasonContact™ will perform better than your usual summer ones.
This tyre comes very highly recommended, with highly popular weekly car magazine, Auto Express, naming Continental’s AllSeasonContact™ as its ‘All Season Tyre Test Winner 2018’. This award completed the very first clean sweep by a single tyre maker of winning all three awards from Auto Express in the same calendar year, with Continental brushing aside all competition in the summer, winter and all-season tyre categories.
It hardly surprising, really. Only Continental knows the entire braking process – from pedal to tyre.
The fifth element
Don’t forget, your vehicle probably has five tyres, not four. Everything we’ve previously recommended also applies to this often overlooked – sometimes life saving – tyre too. If you look after your spare tyre, it will look after you.