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Are Your Winter Tyres in Good Shape?

09 June 2015, 14:01

When you come to fit your winter tyres for the first time of the year, there are many things which need to be taken into consideration.

Firstly, if you are using previously worn winter tyres then you will need to check the condition of the tyres themselves. This is, of course, an extremely important part of the process, but it is not the only step you need to take to ensure that your winter wheels are ready to roll.

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Tyre condition

A thorough visual check will usually tell you all you need to know about the condition of your winter tyres. A look for any abnormalities, bulges, worn patches and cracks will let you know pretty quickly if there are any big problems. If you notice any of these flaws then you should replace your tyres immediately.

Tyre pressure

Winter tyres are no different to summer tyres when it comes to their inflation. The temptation is to fill them to a slightly lower air pressure but this is actually counter-productive. It does not have any real impact on the grip of the tyres but it will severely affect the handling of the car which could cause accidents in itself. Inflate your tyres to the pressure listed in your car’s owner’s manual.

Storage

There is a lot which can happen to a tyre even when it is not being used, so storing them properly to protect them from damage is very important. It is not enough to simply remove them and leave them, forgotten, in a corner of the house or a garage.

Firstly, you should always clean the tyres thoroughly with soap, water and a stiff brush. If you don’t clean them when you take them off your vehicle then you will have twice as much work to do when you come to fit them again the next winter. Once the tyres are completely dry, each tyre should be stored in its own separate storage bag.

Then you should keep the tyres in a cool and dry location until you come to need them again next year. The same goes for the summer tyres which you remove in order to fit your winter ones.

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Brake pads

When you remove your summer tyres to fit your winter ones, this is an excellent chance to check you brake pads for signs of wear. You will have already done half of the work needed to access them and might as well make the most of the opportunity. You will need to remove the wheels fully in order to gain access to the brake pads. You should be able to tell whether or not you need to remove your brake pads simply by looking at them. If the indicators (small metal tabs on the pads themselves) touch the rotors then this is a clear sign that the pads have worn out. If you cannot see any indicators then you can measure the depth of the pads themselves. This should be at least 1/8th of an inch thick the whole way across. If any of your brake pads measure less than this then you should get them replaced as soon as possible.

Brake discs

Similarly, you will also be able to access the brake discs much more easily with the tyres removed. It is worth taking a quick look at their condition to see whether they need changing or if you need to keep an eye on them over the coming months. If the discs are severely corroded or worn then you will need to have them replaced. If they look to be in good condition then you will not need to worry about them over the coming months and can safely leave them alone until you next take your vehicle in to be serviced.

Fixing damaged tyres

If you remember from the previous year that one or more of your winter tyres has a puncture, then you will need to have this fixed before you fit them once again.

Repairing a puncture on the winter tyre follows the same process as on a summer or an all season tyre. You can attempt to do so yourself with a puncture repair kit or you can take the damaged tyre to a garage or a tyre dealership where you can have it repaired professionally. This is a much cheaper alternative to investing in a brand new set of winter tyres. Winter tyres are things to be looked after all year round, and remember that a small amount of time invested when you remove your tyres after the season has ended will save you time when it comes to fitting them again in a few months’ time. Proper storage will ensure that your tyres last longer and could save you a lot of money in the long run. Repairing tyres which are only slightly damaged will work out to be a lot cheaper than buying an entirely new set.

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