Make sure your tyres are still in good condition

How to Tell if a Winter Tyre is OK

09 June 2015, 12:40

In many respects, the process of checking that your winter tyres are still in good condition does not differ too much from checking your summer or all season tyres. The difference lies in the fact that since you may only use these tyres for a few months a year, they could last a very long time before they need replacing.

You should check your winter tyres thoroughly every year before you put them back on your car for winter, to check that they will still do their job well. If they are not in good condition then there will be very little benefit in changing them over at all.

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Tread depth

Just like summer and all season tyres, the tread depth is extremely important. Without a decent tread, your tyres will not be able to grip onto the surface of the road properly, which is even more of a problem in icy and snowy conditions. Grip is one of the main features of the winter tyre, and whilst other tyres would only require a minimum tread depth of 2mm, winter tyres should never fall below 3mm.

You can measure this depth really easily. All you need to do is find a small skewer (cocktail sticks work very well) and place it in one of the grooves of the tyre. Make a mark with a pencil or a felt tip pen where the level of the tread comes up to and then measure the distance from the tip to the mark using a ruler. Take measurements from all tyres and from 2 or 3 different points on the tyre, just to be on the safe side.

Tread bars

Some brands of tyre come fitted with tread bars to make measuring your tread depth even easier. These are ridges which are built into the tyre itself which only start to become easily noticeable when the tyre begins to wear out. When the tread and the tread bars level out to the same height, this is when you need to replace your winter tyres with a new set.

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Manufacture date

All tyres should have a date of manufacture printed on them somewhere. Tyres will have a number of years which is the window of their useful working life, after which it is recommended that they be replaced. This number will change depending on the exact make and model of your tyres, but you should be able to find out easily by searching for the information on the manufacturer’s website.

Visual Check

You can tell a lot about a tyre just from looking at it. If the rubber is showing cracks or has been worn unevenly, then it will be easy to see that the tyre is not in a good working condition. If you can see patches of dried out rubber or strange bulges which do not follow the general curve of the tyre then these are sure signs that you need to purchase a new set.

Sidewall Damage

If there is any damage to the sidewall of the tyres at all, even if it is just a small nick, this will hugely affect the overall performance of the tyre and will require immediate replacement. The condition of your tyres will have a big impact on the overall safety of your vehicle, it is therefore important to make sure that your winter tyres are in a good enough condition to do their job properly. If you are at all unsure about whether or not your winter tyres will safely last another year on the roads then you should take the tyres into a local garage or tyre dealership to get a professional opinion.

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