WHY YOU SHOULD REPLACE TYRES IN AXLE PAIRS

When you’ve got a flat tyre or slow puncture, you should replace it as soon as possible. Not only is this for your safety, but also for the safety of everyone else on the road. But you may have heard that tyres should be replaced in axle pairs. Is this true? Put simple, yes, it is ideal and we recommend it.

Mixing tyres with different tread patterns or tread depths is not recommended by the majority of tyre manufacturers – but there are some exceptions where common sense is the best solution such as when the other tyre on the same axle is practically new.

What is an axle pair?
An axle pair is the pair of wheels that share the same axle. Cars almost always have two axles which spin with the wheels. Sometimes, the entire axle turns with the wheels in order to turn the car – but more often, the axle shaft remains perpendicular to the car while the wheels rotate from it.

Why does this matter for tyre replacements?
Well, when one tyre has less pressure than the other in its axle pair, the pressure from the weight of the car is put onto the axle shaft and hub bearings unevenly.
This isn’t a problem for a short while, but over time this uneven force could wear different parts of the axle system down, to the point that they need replacing. This, you can imagine, is usually far more costly than replacing two tyres.
In the more short term, uneven tyres can make road grip worse on the more worn side, and even contribute to faster wearing of the new tyre. This, in turn, could make emergency braking dangerous – as your car could pull to one side sharply with sudden braking.

Having the same tread pattern matters
Your tyres are your only contact with the road. The tyre tread helps to channel surface water out and away from the tyres in wet conditions, so that your tyres can maintain contact with the surface. When the tread depth is too low, the water can’t be channelled away, which leads to what’s known as ‘aquaplaning’.
If the tread pattern on your tyres isn’t the same, then they channel water out in different ways – again leading to different pressures on the axle shaft, and reduced control in wet conditions.
When selecting tyres, be careful that they match the seasonal type of your current ones. Summer tyres, winter tyres, and all-season tyres all have tread patterns that are optimal for different seasonal conditions. Having two varying season tyres on the same axle pair can be dangerous in different conditions, as each wheel in the axle pair fights against the other.

View from the leading tyre manufacturers – Continental
Continental are synonymous with designing and manufacturing premium tyres with performance and safety at that core. Experts at Continental suggest that, while there are no legal regulations in the UK that state that tyre seasons should not be mixed, the practice is not recommended.

“Mixing tyres may result in unforeseen effects on the handling and comfort of the vehicle and therefore, if fitting All Season Tyres, then {Continental’s} recommendation is that where possible they are fitted in full sets in order to maintain optimum grip and safety. However it is also permissible to mix All Season Tyres with Summer or Winter tyres provided they are fitted in axle pairs.”

Having the same tyre manufacturer matters
Tyres in their different categories must all meet minimum safety requirements, but simply by the process of having different manufacturing methods, different brand tyres will have different lifespans.
Having differently-branded tyres means that you may get differences in tyre wear, and have to replace good ones sooner.

View from the leading tyre manufacturers – Pirelli
As one of the leading manufacturers of premium tyres who are also heavily involved in motor sport, Pirelli strongly advises that same brand and tread pattern is fitted to both axles due to different ply steer angles being used in different tyre constructions.

“The ply steer angle is the angle created between the actual direction of travel and the ideal direction of travel of the driver. A larger ply steer angle on the front axle generates understeer and the vehicle tends to travel a curve with a larger radius. A larger ply steer angle on the rear axle generates oversteer (danger of spinning the vehicle). Whenever only two tyres are substituted it is recommended to fit the new tyres on the rear axle.”

What about four-wheel drive (4×4) vehicles?
With four-wheel drive vehicles, you may need to replace all four tyres when one gets worn out or has a puncture. This is because 4×4 systems rely on all four tyres when operating.
When not replacing all four tyres on your four-wheel drive car or van, be sure to check the maximum load rating on new tyres – it must match or exceed the rating given in your manufacturer’s guidebook.

Do I have to replace all tyres if the rest are new?
If you’ve recently replaced both tyres in an axle pair and you get unlucky with a puncture, then you very likely won’t need to replace both again. However, if it’s been a considerable length of time since you changed your tyres or had them checked then it’s important to seek the advice of a tyre technician. We can do this here at Roadwheel.

One of the most important considerations when replacing tyres, perhaps more so that ensuring your tyre treads match, is to try to avoid mixing tyres on a single axle with a varying degree of tread depth.
Imagine mixing two tyres, one with 7mm of tread and one with 2mm of tread on a single axle. As the nearly new tyre will perform much better, this could lead to differences in handling at wet braking that could result in the vehicle pulling to one side when cornering and stopping.

View from the leading tyre manufacturers – Michelin
Michelin is one of the world’s largest investors in tyre research and development to ensure that their tyre products are the safest and most efficient available to drivers. On the subject of mixing tyres, Michelin concludes that:

“It is recommended that tyres of comparable wear are fitted on the same axle. Michelin recommends that the new or least worn tyres are fitted to the rear axle for vehicle stability and safety. Ensure that the tyre inflation pressures are adjusted to comply with the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.”

When to replace tyres with different tread depths
If your tyres on a single axle have different tread depths and one needs to be replaced, you will need to make a judgement call as to whether you replace one or both tyres to ensure the tread depth of both sides remains fairly even. Our advice is that, if you have 4mm of tread or less on the remaining tyre, its best to replace both tyres to ensure braking and handling is optimised. If you are at all unsure, speak to the team here at Roadwheel.

Need your tyres replaced?
Give us a call or pop down to Roadwheel and we’ll be happy to help!

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CAR BREAKS DOWN ON A MOTORWAY

Looking after your car and getting it serviced on a regular basis can significantly reduce the risk of breakdowns and help ensure it runs smoothly. However, there’s always a possibility that something will go wrong when you’re behind the wheel and breakdowns can happen when you least expect them. This means it’s crucial that you know what to do when disaster strikes – especially if you’re on a motorway.
So that you’re up to speed on how to react in this type of emergency, keep reading. We’ve got some useful tips to help you stay safe and calm if you’re caught out at the roadside.

Move your vehicle to a safe place
Firstly, it’s important that you move your vehicle to a safe place. If you suspect something is wrong with your car, the Highway Code states that you should try to turn off at the next junction or pull into a service area. However, if you are unable to do this, you will need to pull over onto the hard shoulder. When you move over to this emergency lane, it’s important that you park your vehicle as far to the left as possible, keeping your wheels positioned to the left too.
If you break down on a smart motorway, you will not have access to a hard shoulder as it will be being used for traffic. In this situation, you should try to get your vehicle to the next exit, whether you come off the motorway at the next junction or you pull into a service station. Alternatively, you could stop at an emergency refuge area (ERA). This is an area to the side of the road where motorists may pull into and stop. An ERA usually has a brightly coloured road surface.

Put your hazard lights on
Once you’ve pulled over, you should turn on your hazard lights to alert other motorists that you have stopped. If visibility is poor, for example if it’s foggy or dark, you should put your sidelights on too.
If you have any reflective clothing in your car, put it on. While it’s crucial that other road users can see your car clearly, it’s just as important that they can see you.

Get out of the car
When your vehicle breaks down, you may be tempted to sit in the comfort of your car, especially if it’s cold and raining outside. However, staying inside a vehicle when there is fast-moving traffic passing nearby is extremely dangerous. So, once you’ve pulled over into a safe spot, it’s crucial that you and your passengers exit the car.
It’s important to note that you should never leave the vehicle via the driver’s door. Instead, exit the car on the left-hand side to make sure that you’re not walking into oncoming traffic.
If you are travelling with a pet, it is advised that you leave them in the car. This will prevent them from running off into the traffic, which can be dangerous for other road users. However, you can take your pet out of the car if they can be kept securely on a lead.
If you or one of your passengers is unable to leave the car for any reason, keep your seatbelts on. If you feel at risk because of the presence of another person nearby, make sure the doors are locked.

Don’t use your reflective warning signs
While these brightly coloured triangles are designed to show other road users that your vehicle has broken down, you should not use your reflective warning signs on a motorway. Not only is it dangerous for you to position it on the hard shoulder, but the speed of the passing traffic could blow the sign into the carriageway, putting other drivers’ safety in danger.

Stay well away from the traffic
Ideally, you should stand as far away from your vehicle and the oncoming traffic as possible. If there is a safety barrier, you should wait behind this if it’s safe to do so. If you have children with you, make sure you keep them close to you and don’t let them wander off.

Call for assistance
As long as your vehicle is parked safely and you are standing in a safe spot, now is the right time to call for assistance. If you’re signed up to a breakdown service, you should ring them first. It’s likely they will need the details of your car, including your registration number, and your location so that they know where to find you. If you’re not sure of where you have stopped, the call operator may ask you for the number on the nearest location marker sign to help pinpoint your whereabouts on the motorway.
If you’re not signed up for breakdown cover, you will need to call the Highways Agency instead. You can do this using your mobile or by using one of the free phones that are located on the hard shoulder. These are positioned at regular mile intervals along the motorway and can often be found inside a bright orange coloured box with a phone logo on the front.
When assistance arrives, make sure you remain away from your vehicle while the problem is being dealt with.

Don’t fix your car yourself
Even if you suspect it to be a small or simple repair, you shouldn’t attempt to fix your car yourself. This could put your safety in danger, so it’s best to wait until assistance has arrived and let a professional take care of it for you.

Remain calm
There’s no denying that breaking down on the motorway can be a stressful experience, but it’s important that you try to remain as calm as possible. As long as you follow these steps, you shouldn’t be left stranded at the side of the road for too long.
In fact, recovery companies are often able to repair vehicles at the roadside. Even if they can only provide you with a temporary fix, you’ll be able to get back into your car and off the motorway so you can assess the damage and get it repaired properly.

Avoid breakdowns
It’s important to remember to get your car serviced regularly. This is because the majority of accidents caused by car faults are caused by things that could have been addressed and fixed had they been spotted in a service.

Keep yourself safe, and keep other road users safe, through investing in regular car maintenance services that you can rely. Call us or pop in to Roadwheel for free tyre and safety checks on all vehicles.

ESSENTIAL WINTER DRIVING SAFETY TIPS

From thick fog to black ice, winter in the UK can present motorists with a whole range of challenges. To help you avoid danger when you’re behind the wheel, here are some safety tips that all drivers should know to drive safely in winter.

Ice and snow
The roads can be dangerous in winter when there’s snow, ice or sleet. Our top tip is to take it slow. Stopping distances can be 10 times longer when it’s icy. Gentle manoeuvres and slow speeds are the key to safe driving in ice and snow.
To reduce the risk of skidding on the roads, it’s essential that your tyres have enough grip. Although the legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, experts recommend having at least 3mm – and this is especially important in winter. You might even want to consider getting winter or all-season tyres that offer better grip in cold conditions.
When temperatures drop, you might have to de-ice your car before journeys. When you do this, don’t stop at your windscreen and other windows. If there’s any snow on the roof of your vehicle, make sure you sweep this off too. If you don’t, there’s a risk it will fall onto your windscreen while you’re driving and block your view.
Even if you’re careful, there’s a chance your car will skid. If this happens, try to steer gently in the direction of the skid. For example, if the back of your vehicle is sliding to the left, steer to the left.
Where possible, plan your route to stick to major roads that are more likely to have been gritted and cleared of ice. Whichever route you take, watch out for black ice. As a general rule, if the temperature is very low and the road surface has a sheen and appears to be wet, drive with extreme caution. There is a chance this could be ice rather than water.

Fog
Falling temperatures increase the chances of fog, so it pays to be clued up on what to do if visibility drops when you’re travelling. You’re required by law to use your headlights when visibility is significantly reduced (this is generally considered to mean when you can’t see for more than 100 metres). If visibility is especially poor, you can use your fog lights. As soon as conditions improve though, you must switch them off. If you leave these lights on, you risk dazzling other drivers and obscuring your brake lights.
Adjust your speed so that you can stop in the distance you can see clearly in front of you, and make sure you leave a bigger gap than usual before the car in front (at least three seconds). Bear in mind that some drivers may not be using their lights, so you’ll have to be especially vigilant. Check your mirrors carefully before you slow down too. Motorists behind you may find it harder to react, meaning that if you slow or stop suddenly, you’re more likely to be shunted.

High winds
Strong winds can wreak havoc on the roads. From toppling high-sided vehicles, to causing cars and bikes to swerve, to bringing trees down, they pose a number of risks. If it’s windy while you’re driving, make sure you keep both hands on the wheel at all times, and prepare yourself for gusts if you’re approaching exposed stretches of the motorway. Be ready for sudden gusts when passing high-sided vehicles and tall buildings too, and try to keep your distance from other road users in case they get blown into your path.
Keep a constant lookout for objects on the road as well, including branches and trees. You should also lower your speed so that it’s easier to stop if you do come across on obstacle in your path. This is especially important at night or if you’re travelling around blind bends.

Heavy rain and flooding
In heavy rain, you should always make sure your headlights are on – and if it’s especially heavy and visibility is very low, you may want to use your fog lights. Be sure to switch these off as soon as the rain eases though.
Because it takes longer to stop on a wet surface, safety experts suggest leaving at least twice as much space between your car and the vehicle ahead. Also, drive more slowly than usual to reduce the risk of aquaplaning. If you do feel you’ve lost steering control because your tyres aren’t in proper contact with the road, hold the steering wheel tightly and slow down smoothly and gently until your tyres grip the surface again.
Where possible, avoid floods and areas of standing water, and don’t be tempted to drive into water that’s moving or that’s over 10cm deep. If you’re travelling through water, move slowly so that you don’t create a bow wave, and test your brakes as soon as it’s safe to do so afterwards.

Even if you take all these tips on board and drive as carefully as possible in winter, there’s always a chance that you’ll get stuck, break down or be involved in an accident. In case this happens, it’s a good idea to pack emergency supplies including a blanket, shovel, torch, water and snacks. You should also make sure you have a charged phone on you at all times. If you have concerns about your car and the prospect of driving in these conditions is daunting, book a free tyre and safety check here at Roadwheel and we will check your vehicle over for you.

ARE STOP-START ENGINES MORE EFFICIENT?

Fuel economy might be high on your list of priorities when you’re looking for a new car, and with this in mind, you may be wondering whether to choose a vehicle that features automatic stop-start technology. Stop-start is a system on most modern cars that cuts the engine when the car is stationary in order to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. But does the science stack up? Keep reading to find out how stop-start engines work, and whether they could help you to lower your driving costs and reduce your emissions.

How does stop-start technology work?
This technology does exactly what the name suggests. Featured in most modern cars, a stop-start system cuts the engine when a vehicle is stationary. The system uses a computer to detect when the car is stationary or out of gear, or when it’s running in low-load conditions; at which point it halts fuel delivery and spark to the engine.
In the case of hybrid cars, a limited amount of torque can be supplied by the car’s electric drive motor while the engine is off, although it’s usually only enough to maintain speed on a level grade or around town. The ignition starts again when the car begins moving, the clutch is pressed or more power is needed.
This process happens automatically, but if you have a car with one of these systems, you can choose to disable it. This is usually done by pressing a button displaying an ‘A’.

By switching the engine off automatically when you’ve stopped, for example when you’re waiting at traffic lights, junctions or in heavy traffic, the systems are designed to reduce the amount of fuel burned and make vehicles more environmentally friendly.

Cutting your fuel costs
So, the big question. Do they actually lower fuel costs? According to research, the answer is yes. Tests conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) organisation found that fuel economy could be improved by up to seven per cent. The study looked at the performance of three stop-start vehicles in urban conditions to simulate a typical work commute, concluding that stop-start technology can deliver a “significant fuel economy benefit”.

Fuel savings of up to seven per cent can really add up over time, so using a car that features stop-start technology could help you to make major savings on your running costs. Exactly how much you’re able to save will depend on a range of factors, including your driving habits and the roads you tend to use. For example, if you often travel on congested urban routes where you’re likely to be stationary more of the time, you stand to make bigger savings than if you rack up most of your miles on motorways or other fast roads.

Reducing your car’s emissions
It’s not just the benefits to your wallet that you should think about when deciding whether to use stop-start technology. There are also environmental benefits to consider. A study that compared the engine emissions of two four-wheel drive cars found that the one fitted with automatic stop-start functionality recorded 20 per cent lower emissions than the vehicle without this technology.

The emissions lowering capability of stop-start systems is particularly important in towns and cities, where traffic is likely to be stationary for longer.

Other ways to drive more efficiently
As these points demonstrate, stop-start vehicle technology can play an important role in making your car cheaper to run and less polluting, but there are other ways to improve efficiency too:

Driving style
There’s no doubt that the speed you drive at is arguably the most influential factor affecting fuel consumption. Adopting bad driving habits such as speeding and excessive acceleration will drain fuel. There are a number of ways you can change your driving habits to have a significant impact on the money you spend at the pump, such as using cruise control which helps to maintain a constant speed and make the best use of your fuel. Sudden braking will also have a detrimental effect on your MPG, so making sure you leave enough distance between yourself and the car in front whilst driving will mean you’re not constantly hitting the brake pedal.

Lighten the load
The heavier the vehicle, the more fuel it will need to keep it moving, especially when driving in stop-start traffic.
On average an extra 50kg of weight in a vehicle will increase fuel consumption by 1-2%, so whilst it can be easy to get in the habit of using your car as a storage space, it’s best to only carry the essentials.

Choose your routes wisely
Before setting off on a new route, do some research into the best way to get to your destination. There might be a more direct route available than the one you initially think of. If possible, choose your travelling time wisely too. For example, if you can avoid travelling through congested areas at rush hour, do so.

Servicing
Maintaining your vehicle is one of the best ways to ensure your car runs efficiently and stays in good shape. From checking brakes to regular oil changes, a full service can reduce the burden on your engine and help to provide improved miles per gallon.

So, by choosing a car with stop-start technology, and paying attention to your driving habits and vehicle maintenance, you stand to make significant fuel and emissions savings.

HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?

How many of us have seen the red fuel light flash on and carried on to our destination without stopping to fill-up at least once? We have all done it, but some people push it a little too far and can end up being responsible for a spate of traffic jams.
In 2015, a survey by LV Road Rescue reported that over half a million motorists admitted to driving with their fuel warning light on, running the risk of a roadside breakdown by driving with very low fuel. As a result, the report also claimed that more than 800,000 motorists had to be rescued from the roadside due to running out of fuel.
Drivers overestimated how much fuel they had left in the tank, with almost one in four drivers believing that, once their fuel light came on, they could squeeze another 40 miles out of the tank before hitting empty.

The actual number of miles that the UK’s most popular cars can achieve once the fuel light comes on is dependent on a few factors, from your driving style to the condition of your vehicle.
A common belief is that on average a car can go for roughly another 40 to 50 miles after the warning light goes on, but it isn’t that straightforward. The range on the fuel gauge is usually based on the average miles already driven – so what the gauge shows may not be accurate for your current driving conditions.

How long can you keep going?
Below are some of Compare the Market’s findings when it comes to the average distances that can be driven after a warning from the fuel light.

Car / Miles left
Ford Fiesta / 37 miles
Vauxhall Corsa / 36 miles
Ford Focus / 41 miles
Volkswagen Golf / 44 miles
Nissan Qashqai / 43 miles
Volkswagen Polo / 42 miles
Vauxhall Astra / 30 miles
Audi A3 / 43 miles
Mini Cooper / 44 miles
BMW 3 Series / 44 miles

The data above was calculated using fuel tank capacity and MPG data sourced for each car. The MPG data was pulled from well world usage rather than manufacturer figures to achieve a realistic representation. As 10% capacity is, on average, the level that the low fuel light turns on for most modern models, this was also taken into consideration. These values were used in the following formula to calculate the average miles stated above: MPG x (tank capacity – 10% fuel capacity)

It turns out that cars can still travel quite a distance even after they’ve reached low fuel levels. However, while your car can potentially continue to run 50+ miles before running out of fuel, it’s important to note that driving with the fuel warning light on should be massively avoided. By driving with low fuel levels, you could end up facing the inconvenience of being stranded by the side of the road, as well as causing damage to your vehicle in the process.

What are the consequences of running on empty?
When it comes to running on low fuel, usually our only focus is on how far the nearest petrol station is and whether our car will be able to get there before the fuel runs out. But it’s important to know that allowing your fuel tank to run on empty can damage your engine, as well as cause several problems to your fuel system.

Your car’s fuel pump is designed to sit submerged in fuel, using petrol as a coolant, and when there is not enough gas in the tank, the fuel pump can become exposed and overheat internally. By continuously running on low fuel, you’ll end up wearing out your fuel pump, as the lack of fuel allows air to be sucked in – which overheats inside the pump. It’s worth noting that any issues with the fuel pump’s functionality affects the flow of fuel to the engine, and a broken fuel pump means that you won’t be able to start your engine.

Your fuel pump isn’t the only damage that can be done to your car by low fuel levels – your fuel tank can also be at risk. Many drivers aren’t aware that rust and sediments like dust, dirt and even rocks can enter your fuel tank for a variety of reasons. So, when you allow your car fuel tank to run low, the sediment in your tank can get sucked into the system and clog the fuel filter, the fuel-pump or even the fuel injector. This negatively impacts your car’s mileage and fuel economy, depreciating the condition of your car.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should
While many vehicles can travel a far distance despite being on low fuel, this shouldn’t be a reason to not fill up your car. When it comes to fuel, ensuring that your car’s fuel tank is kept topped up will help you avoid any premature repairs that can be caused by low fuel levels.

It’s recommended to keep your fuel tank at least ¼ full and to fill up before heading out on a long trip, as this will greatly reduce the likelihood that you will dip into low fuel levels. After all, you never know when you might get stuck in traffic – and running out of fuel can add long delays to your journey!

CAN YOU REPAIR RUN FLAT TYRES?

Firstly, what are run flat tyres?
Start by opening the boot of your car, lift the floor cover up, what do you see? If it’s a spare tyre sat in the cavity or a foam filler tyre repair kit then your car isn’t fitted with run flat tyres. However, if you don’t see either then there is a good chance that your car is fitted with run flat tyres – or should be.

Run flat tyres have reinforced sidewalls which enable them to remain fairly rigid in the event of a puncture. The tyres will deflate down to a point, but it saves your wheel hubs from having to take the weight that a fully-inflated tyre would.

With a traditional tyre, you need to stop as soon as you have a flat and replace it. If you don’t, you risk damaging the hubs, spokes, and rims of your wheels, and having to pay for costly repairs. With run flat tyres, you’re able to continue driving to a nearby tyre replacement centre.

If your car has been fitted with run flat tyres, or you’re considering changing to them, you may be wondering if they’re repairable.

Can I repair run flat tyres?
While it’s technically possible to repair run flat tyres, most retailers will refuse to do so – as it’s likely to make your tyres unsafe. This is because run flat tyres must be driven below 30mph for less than 50 miles once a puncture has happened – and a repair technician has no way of knowing whether this has been adhered to.

In exceptional circumstances, such as a hole-puncture in a remote location, it is possible to plug small holes with a tyre puncture repair kit. Doing this with a run flat tyre is done in much the same way as repairing a traditional tyre. However, we highly recommend that you then have your tyres replaced as soon as you’re near a replacement centre.

Failing to do so is also likely to result in an MOT test failure, and leave you driving with unsafe tyres.

Is it ok to change from traditional tyres to run flat tyres?
This varies based on your vehicle. If your vehicle wasn’t designed with run flat tyres in mind, it is usually advised to stick with traditional tyres. This is because the wheels and axles would have been designed with different stresses factored in.

Sometimes, it’s not an issue, but we highly recommend you check with your manufacturer. Run flat tyres have the benefit of not needing to carry a spare tyre (as you’re able to drive to a nearby repair centre in the event of a puncture) but they can also be a little more expensive than traditional tyres.

Where can I get my run flat tyres replaced?
Roadwheel! Here at Roadwheel we stock run flat tyres, just give us a call to check we have your particular tyre in stock and if not, we can order them in.

5 WAYS TO AVOID A BREAKDOWN THIS WINTER

Winter can really take its toll on vehicles. From faulty electrics to cracked windscreen wipers, you might experience a whole range of problems behind the wheel when colder weather sets in.
So if you want to save yourself the hassle of a vehicle breakdown this chilly season, here are five ways to reduce the risk of a car-related mishap.

1. Pay attention to your battery
The last thing you want is for your tyre to go flat. If you tend to use your car for short journeys, consider charging the battery at least once a week during cold spells. This is particularly important if your battery is over 3 years old.
Also make sure to switch all electrical loads off at the end of a journey before turning the engine off. This helps to ensure you don’t drain the battery unnecessarily the next time you turn the engine on. Avoiding using things like heated seats and screen for longer than you need to also helps to avoid draining the battery.
Always make sure to look out for signs of corrosion on your battery cables and clamps too as this can limit the flow of the current. If you’re able to park your car in a garage overnight as well, this will help protect the battery from the very lowest temperatures.
With all that said, old batteries can still struggle, so if you’ve noticed that your just isn’t holding charge, it’s probably time to get a new one.

2. Check your tyres
By law, your tyres are required to have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm, but for safety, we strongly recommend that you replace your tyres before the legal limit is reached. Many vehicle manufacturers recommend replacing tyres at 3mm.
This is particularly important when travelling in difficult weather conditions such as snow, ice or heavy rain.
Having plenty of tread on your tyres helps with traction and grip, making it easier for you to keep control of your car. As well as paying attention to the tread, look out for general signs of damage including cracks, splits and bulges. If you notice any problems, get your tyres checked out by an expert and, if necessary, replaced.
It’s also important to keep your tyres inflated to the right pressure. This will improve handling and minimise the risk of a blowout, which can be particularly dangerous when road conditions are poor.

3. Give your wiper blades a once over
Wiper blades don’t last forever, and you don’t want to discover that yours need replacing when you’re driving in snow or rain. The grit that’s used to keep roads free from ice during the winter can quickly cover your windscreen in a dirty film, making it impossible to see clearly unless you have properly functioning wipers. So, now’s the time to give your blades a once over, checking them for cracks and splits. If you see any sign of damage, change them as soon as possible.

4. Keep an eye on coolant, oil, screen wash and fuel levels
Although your car’s coolant system is sealed and therefore shouldn’t need to be topped up, it’s a good idea to check just in case – especially before a long journey. Make sure you check the level when the engine is cold, and if you do need to top it up, refer to your handbook to make sure you’re using the right coolant.

Keep tabs on your screen wash level too, and always use a good quality wash additive or pre-mix that won’t freeze down to temperatures at least as low as -15°C.

Running too low on oil can be very bad news for your car engine, potentially leading to catastrophic damage. It’s never a good time for this to happen, but it’s especially worrying if this causes you to breakdown in winter. You could find yourself waiting for a recovery vehicle for a long time in unpleasant, cold conditions. So, make sure you check your oil levels and top them up if they’re low.

It might sound obvious, but always ensure you have enough fuel before setting off on a journey. When temperatures dip, you really don’t want to get stranded.

If your car’s due to have a service soon, get it booked in now. This will help you to keep your vehicle in the best possible condition and avoid any nasty surprises over winter.

5. Always be prepared
Taking these steps will help you to avoid a winter breakdown, but there’s always a chance that you’ll find yourself in difficulty during the colder months. In case this happens, it’s important to be prepared by keeping some emergency supplies in your car. Some of things we reccomend are:
– Car blankets and warm clothes
– Torch and spare batteries
– Car phone charger
– Two emergency car triangles
– Hi-vis jacket
– Food and drink
– Ice scraper and de-icer spray
– Jump leads
– Sturdy footwear
– Map and first aid kit

UNDERSTANDING TYRE LOAD INDEX

Looking after your vehicle means making sure it is safe and comfortable to use. Checking the parameters of your vehicle’s tyres is an important step that shouldn’t be overlooked, and the tyre load index is just one aspect that will need to be investigated before investing in replacement tyres.

What is the tyre load index?
A tyre load index describes the maximum load, or weight, that an individual tyre is able to safely carry when inflated to the safe, recommended tyre pressure. Different makes and models of tyres have different tyre load indexes, which is detailed on the sidewall – usually it is displayed as a two or three digit number that follows the numbers describing the dimensions of the tyre.

Section/tyre width
The width of your tyre, in millimetres, measured from sidewall to sidewall.

Aspect ratio
This is the ratio of the tyre’s cross-section to its width, expressed as a percentage. An aspect ratio of 65, for example, indicates that the tyre’s height is 65% of its width.

Rim/wheel diameter
The diameter (height) of the wheel in inches.

Load index
Your tyre’s load index relates to its maximum carrying capacity (in kg). You’ll find the load rating of your tyre on the sidewall, just to the right of the diameter. For example, a tyre with a load index of 91 can carry 615kg of weight. Load ratings and speed ratings should be looked at together when you buy a new tyre. Also remember to check your manufacturer’s recommendations.

Speed rating
The speed rating is the maximum speed for a tyre when it is correctly inflated and being used under load. The speed rating is the letter at the end of the sidewall, after the load index number. A tyre with a speed rating of V, for example, has a maximum speed of 240 km/h. When buying new tyres, make sure you match their speed rating with the speed capabilities of your vehicle.

Why is the tyre load important for drivers?
Overloading tyres can be unsafe and lead to tyre damage. You must ensure that a tyre with a suitable load index is fitted to your vehicle – never affix tyres that have a lower load capacity than recommended.
Recommendations can usually be found in your vehicle handbook, which should detail the appropriate range of load indexes that any new tyres will need, in relation to your specific vehicle. Failure to heed this advice could lead to the fitting of a tyre with an incorrect load index, which could cause problems with insurance, and may even invalidate certain policies.

How to use the tyre load index
To the right you will find our handy tyre load index chart which outlines the maximum weights attributed to each load index rating – highlighting exactly how much weight a tyre can safely carry. To calculate the total carrying capacity for your car as a whole, simply multiply the single tyre load index by four.

COMMON MOT FAILURES

All cars more than three years old in the UK must pass a yearly MOT test (unless it was made before 1960). The MOT is a simple test of roadworthiness, and is not to be confused with a vehicle health check.
Simply put an MOT will determine whether your car is safe to drive on the road, it will not reveal any lurking vehicle health issues, such as issues problems with the clutch or the engine.
Many motorists worry about their annual MOT and can be unaware of what will cause their vehicle to fail before the test itself. Despite this concern, approximately 70% of all cars pass their MOTs, so the odds are in your favour, and a lot of the issues flagged in an MOT can be resolved quickly.
With that said, we’ve outlined the most common MOT failures so you are better prepared for when yours comes around!

1. Lights and signalling
Nearly a fifth of all cars which fail their MOT are because of an issue with their lights. Bulbs and lights are an easy fix but catch a lot of people out in their MOT as they can be easily overlooked.
It’s a good idea to switch all your lights on and walk around your car to check they’re in working order.
Things to check:
Front
Rear
Brake
Fog
Indicator
Registration plate lights
Rear reflectors.
It’s also worth checking the condition of the lights. Often plastic lenses get misty over time, so it might be worth buying a kit to clean your lights ahead of the MOT.
Most bulbs are easily replaceable but should you need some extra support, get in touch with an expert.

2. Suspension
More than one in 10 MOT failures are caused by suspension issues. Motorists are no stranger to potholes and patchy road surfaces and these can take their toll on your vehicle. Suspension issues can be hidden fairly well, so you can be forgiven for missing a leaky shock absorber or even a snapped spring.
Unfortunately checking your suspension isn’t as easy as checking your bulbs, however make sure you pay attention to any noises made by your car during everyday driving – particularly during cornering or when passing over bumpy roads. You can also check to see if it sits level or if it’s slightly higher or lower in one corner.
Generally it’s recommended that you have an annual car service to check for any suspension issues that you might have picked up over the last 12 months.

3. Brakes
One in 10 cars fail their MOT due to brake issues. Most faults will be fairly obvious with major failings presenting themselves in the form of spongy pedals or the car pulling to either the left or right when applying the brakes. If you hear squealing or grinding noises coming from your brakes, it’s usually a sign that the pads are running low. All of these will need immediate attention from a professional to be checked.

4. Tyres
Tyres can be the reason for many MOT failures. They are the only part of the car that is in contact with the floor, taking the brunt of impacts and rough surfaces, so if they aren’t up to scratch, you could have a disaster on your hands.
Tyres should be checked regularly, not just when it’s due an MOT, to ensure they are road legal.
The minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm, although it is recommended to replace the tyres at no less than 2mm depth. You can use a 20p coin to check the tread.
It’s also a good idea to feel inside the tyre to check for uneven wear, as well as looking for any lumps or cuts which could cause a dangerous blowout.
Replacing tyres is relatively inexpensive but may be a crucial step to passing your MOT.

5. Issues affecting your view of the road
It is vital that you can see the road clearly when driving, however there are an alarming amount of MOT’s that fail as a result of issues affecting the driver’s view of the road.
This includes things blocking the windscreen such as a sat-nav, or cracks and chips in the glass within the driver’s eyeline. It’s also good to check the wipers. They need to be able to clear the windscreen effectively with no loose parts.

Those are the most common MOT failures that you should watch out for, some easy fixes and some that are easily overlooked. Find out if your vehicle is MOT ready and get in touch with Roadwheel today if you need a hand!

WHAT DOES YOUR EXHAUST DO?

The car exhaust system is a vital part of your vehicle and one that is responsible for many things to keep your car running smoothly, each impacting how the car performs or affecting the safety of the vehicle.

What is an exhaust system and what does it do?
A common misconception about the exhaust system is that it’s very small and located at the back of your vehicle, however the exhaust system of a car is actually made up of several parts and spans almost the entire length of your car.

Your car exhaust system has four main jobs to do:
1. Control and minimise noise
2. Redirect exhaust fumes created by the engine
3. Improve the engine’s overall performance
4. Improve fuel consumption.

How does it work?
Your car’s exhaust system is a series of tubes and chambers designed to move gas away from the engine and reduce the noise that it makes. The several different components are the exhaust manifold, oxygen sensors, catalytic converter, diesel particulate filter, silencer and exhaust pipe.
The most important functions of the car exhaust system is that it redirects dangerous gases away from passengers. Your car exhaust emissions system is crucial for your car to operate safely. There are six gases produced by the basic function of your car’s engine: nitrogen gas, carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons. The exhaust system collects these noxious gases, removes the hazardous elements of these gases before safely distributing them out of the car and into the outside atmosphere.

How do I know my exhaust is working properly?
As such a crucial part of your car, you’ll want to ensure that your exhaust system is always running smoothly. However, if you’re not sure of the warning signs, here are some things to look out for in the event that you might need an exhaust repair or replacement:

– If your exhaust system emits a rattling, vibration or increased engine noise, this is an indicator that your exhaust system may have an issue and needs to be checked out by a professional.

– If you can visually see any damage, such as cracks or holes when looking at your exhaust, particularly where the different sections of the system meet, you should get your vehicle checked by a professional. If you also spot rust when inspecting your car exhaust system, this might not automatically be an issue, but is worth getting checked to be on the safe side.

It’s good to get your exhaust checked at least twice a year for any damage that could occur. If you have any concerns about your exhaust, drop in to Roadwheel or give us a call and we’d be more than happy to have a look.