It took me 6 years to pass my driving test. 6 years – I actually had to work that out… It wasn’t through lack of trying, I passed first time; but I had other things going on like uni, and getting a job in London where a car is not absolutely necessary. I passed in December 2014 and I didn’t get a car straight away but February 2015, I welcomed Clara into my life. I brought Clara the Corsa so that I didn’t have spend 2+ hours on a train to see my family for what is an hour(ish) car journey. Here’s the thing – I know nothing about cars, seriously zilch. I was lucky that I have someone in the family that does, who helped to buy a car that wasn’t going to die on me in 6 months.
Despite having family well versed in the language of mechanics, I wanted to make sure that I knew the basics. My family member might not be around if I broke down. Plus, it’s my car so surely it’s my responsibility? (Okay, yes I do have AA cover but it’s better to safer than sorry, right?) The maintenance of your car is super important! From oil levels, to brake fluid and coolant; keeping your engine happy is just one way to prolonging the car’s life on the road. But have you considered the importance of checking your tyres? If you didn’t have any tyres, but you had a working engine – would you be going anywhere? I know I wouldn’t be.
Here are some top tips that I’ve picked up, on checking your tyres; and also, what to do if you need to replace one but like me don’t have a clue where to start.
There are many reasons why checking your tyre pressure is important. Under-inflated tyres affect handling and grip, and are more likely to suffer from a dangerous sudden rapid deflation, especially on motorways. But the best reason? By keeping your tyres at their optimum pressure, the running costs will be reduced. Under-inflated tyres use more force, which also means more fuel. If not at the right pressure, the tread will wear out more quickly.
If you don’t know your tyre pressure, there’s many useful sites which can give you this information – although it could be in your service manual. You can pick up a tyre pressure gauge from Halfords, or even just at the petrol station – and try check them at least once a month and especially before a long journey. Oh, and one last thing – tyre pressures can change if your car is full so bear that in mind too.
The 20p test.
The legal minimum tyre tread depth for cars in the UK and Europe is 1.6mm, in the middle three-quarters of the tyres and across the complete circumference of the tyre. There are many ways to check your tyre tread depth, but the easiest way is to find yourself a 20p. The border around the edge of a 20p is approximately 1.6mm. Simply place in between the gaps (apparently known as ‘tread grooves’) on the tyre and if it exceeds the border, they are legal. If they are below this, then they will need replacing.
Replacing your tyre with the right type and quality
This is where it definitely gets more complicated and into unchartered territory, so leave it to the experts. If you are like me, and don’t know much about your car tyres then simply go onto the web and find a service like Point-S. Type in your registration and all the information will be available to you! At least now, I don’t feel like I’m in an alien world and it sort of makes a little bit of sense. But don’t try and save yourself some money buying part-worn, buy new – always.
Still being a fairly new driver, I want to be safe on the roads and one thing I have learnt in the past year is do not wait for your MOT to come around, you never know what could be going wrong. Your tyres are the most visible working piece and should be looked after too.
Much love xxx
*This is a collaboration post.