Rubber. In fashion, when people start talking about rubber it creates a nervous excitement. What are we going to see? Sophie Richardoz rubber couture always springs to my mind. But when it comes to your car the rubber bits are arguably one of the most important components especially when it comes to safety. Shockingly though it is one area of the car that everyone seems desperate to save money on.
Those four little pieces of rubber are the only thing that connect you to the road and it is vital that you understand what a few millimetres or a drop in temperature can do to the safety statistics of your car.
In around October, I, like most women, get excited about my winter boot purchase, my new Marc Jacobs coat, the gloves, hats and even ear muffs I am going to get to drape all over myself. Unlike most of you though I also go to my garage and get out my car's 'winter shoes'
Those with children take note, normal tyres are less effective at stopping you when the temperature drops below seven degrees. The compound of the tyre is not made for the extremes in heat and cold and the tyre starts to become harder making it difficult and slower to stop.
I know its not always practical to have a spare set of tyres. Those that live in flats or have no storage will find it practically an impossibility and I get that running a car can be expensive enough, but if you can afford it, if you can store them then please start changing your wintery ways. Some tyre fitters will 'hotel' your summer tyres for around £40.00 per year.
If you can't there are other ways you can make your car safer in winter. I know its a boring subject but it is important.
In winter check your tyres more, make sure you have plenty of tread. Ignore please the UK's appalling legal limit of 1.6mm and instead change your cars tyres at three millimetres. Eight meters is the difference in stopping distance between three and 1.6mm at 50mph in wet weather. Eight meters!
Check your tyre pressures often and don't listen to stupid boyfriends, brothers or dads that advise you to reduce tyre pressures to get more grip. It can cause reduced stability and doesn't actually benefit you in any real way. Keep them at the recommended pressure which you can find either on your door sills or in the manual.
Keep an eye on the quality of the wall of your tyre, especially if you may have knocked a curb or a rock on the road.
A final consideration for tyres maybe to invest in some snow chains and leave them in the boot of your car. If you are caught out they may come in handy.
NOW I know this may go in one ear and out the other, but please, if just one of you takes as much care with your winter car shoes as you do your own winter boots I will be over the moon.
There are so many drive-in tyre centers around the UK so pop in and ask them if you are unsure. Don't believe this nonsense that they will take advantage because you are a woman or they think you don't know about the subject. I have found tyre fitters to be some of the most genuine and helpful guys in the industry. Plus they fall over to help if you are a girl, I guess it must be staring at all those greasy men all day. Where do I sign up!
My Mercedes piece is coming up in a couple of days. It may set the cat amongst the pigeons a bit BUT hey-ho. I just wanted to take advantage of this bloody cold weather to get you all thinking about safety. So stay safe, enjoy the snow if you have it and if you don't then you are probably as depressed as me. I have a stunning Porsche Design sledge thats desperate to see a bit of action!!
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