I think we can safely say that the Autumn has arrived, and along with the turning leaves and shorter days we have the inevitable increase in water on the roads.
That’s right drivers, it’s time to talk tyres!
Your tyres are the only contact points between your car and the road, which means that they are crucial for performance and safety.
Your tyres have to deal with the forces of braking, accelerating and cornering, and they’re usually very good at it. But over time, or with excessively harsh use, small amounts of rubber are worn off the tyre and deposited on the road.
Eventually enough rubber is worn off that the performance of the tyre begins to deteriorate. Braking distances are increased, tyres slip more when accelerating, and cornering performance is compromised as they can’t keep such a good grip.
Although tyres can afford to lose some of their grip and still perform adequately, beyond a certain limit they become dangerous. In fact, if your car has less than 3mm tread depth they are illegal and you could receive a fine of up to £1000 for each tyre that falls below this limit.
It’s easy to check your tread depth and this video from the RAC shows you how.
There are a number of other changes to our driving that we can take into consideration when driving in the wet, that will not only improve our safety but also peace of mind and how the ride feels.
It’s not just the moisture on the roads that’s the problem. When it first rains, the water combines with mud and oil on and around the roads, creating a significantly more slippery surface. The simple action to take is to reduce your speed when it first starts to rain.
In heavy rain there is a real risk of the tyres losing grip with the road completely. Aquaplaning is where a layer of water builds up between the treads and the road surface, and the tyres essentially skims along the top of it rather than rolling.
When this happens there is no grip, no braking and no control as the steering is also taken out of action until grip is resumed.
If this does happen, try to avoid the temptation to brake or steer out of the skid and instead steer into it. Once your car regains traction your tyres will then be pointing in the same direction as the car is pointing, and you can then brake and begin to steer back the way you are going.
I’m sure you know exactly how many meters it takes your car to stop when driving at 30mph (it’s 23m, in case you had temporarily forgotten!), but in the wet this number is doubled!
Which means that at 60m instead of being 73m it’s 146m… that’s almost one and a half lengths of a football pitch!
And that’s with nice fresh grippy tyres - if yours are a little worse for wear this will be increased even further.
This is a real call to action to slow down, and increase the distance between you and the car in front.
‘Stay out of the puddles’ is probably something you say to your kids but the same applies to driving of course. Puddles will collect at the lowest point of the road each time it rains, meaning that there's an increased risk of potholes developing as water gets under the road surface. The consequence of this is that you've got no idea what's underneath the water, whether it's a wheel-bending pothole or a piece of metal waiting to puncture your tyre. Trying to avoid every single puddle on the road is impossible and unnecessary, it’s more about assessing the road and making your own judgement.
Those really big puddles that can form at the sides of the road can also be problematic, even if there’s no pothole hidden underneath them. When you drive through them at speed, the left wheels are slowed down more than the right side. Although your car’s drive-train is designed to cope with these differentials, it can pull the car to the side making for an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous driving experience.
As well as your tyres there are numerous other checks it is worth making before the weather really sets in. Wiper blades, fluid levels, and the all-important emergency kit to store in the boot in case you break down and become stranded.
Remember, if you’re unsure about the roadworthiness of your car please don’t hesitate to drop it in to us here at Thame Cars.
One of our technicians would be more than happy to take a look at it and check your tread depth to make sure that you are safe and ready to hit the roads.