While the heavy rainfall and subsequent floods brought about last week by Storm Desmond was somewhat extreme, it does highlight the need at this time of year to make sure your car is ready for winter.
During the winter months, driving can be particularly hazardous as a result of factors such as wet and slippery roads or reduced visibility. However, with the correct preparations, many of these potential accidents can be avoided. Indeed, according to recent figures released by the Department for Transport, more than 1,100 road casualties were caused in 2014 as a result of illegal defective or under-inflated tyres.
In wet weather, it’s particularly important to ensure that your tyres have adequate tread depth. The current UK legal minimum tread depth for car tyres is 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tyre tread, although many tyre manufacturers recommend changing your tyres when they reach 3mm. According to tests conducted by the British Tyre Manufacturers Association, stopping distances in the wet are increased by as much as 44% if tyre tread depth is reduced from 3mm to the legal minimum of 1.6mm (http://www.rospa.com/road-safety/advice/vehicles/tyre-safety-technology/tread-depth-wet-weather/).
Checking your tyre tread depth is incredibly easy. According to industry safety body TyreSafe, you should check the depth of your tyre tread at least once a month. Ideally you should use a calibrated tread depth gauge, but if you haven’t got one, you can even use a 20p coin (http://www.tyresafe.org/tyre-safety/tread-depth).
When checking your tread depth, you should also ensure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure. You should also give them a visual inspection to ensure that they are free from any lumps, bulges or cuts.
Condition and alignment
During the inspection you should also pay attention to the wear on the tyre tread, ensuring it is even across the width of the tyre. If one side of the tyre tread is worn more than the other, this could be a sign that your car’s wheels are misaligned which may mean that not only is your car not as safe as it could be, but it also means your tyres will wear out quicker than normal.
Of course, if you’re not sure how to check your tyres or simply don’t have the time, AlignMyCar now has more than 300 centres across the UK who’d be happy to help you out. To find the location of your nearest centre, simply enter your postcode into our handy site locator, and pop along to discuss your concerns.