Getting your car ready for the winter

With winter well on its way and temperatures dropping down to freezing, now is the time to start checking your car is ready for the months ahead. According to research by recovery firms, you’re twice as likely to break down in winter months, so if you don’t have breakdown cover, that’s the first thing to sort out.

There are some ways in which you can try and avoid breaking down to start with and also making sure your car is safe for driving in bad conditions. Ice is one of the main causes for accidents during the winter months and how your car copes with ice is often mostly down to your tyres. If your tyres have little tread left on them then you should replace them as soon as possible. If you have previously had cheap budget tyres on, then it is worth getting them checked out to see if they have a decent grip on them.  Simple jobs such as checking all your lights are in good working order and your fluid levels are topped up don’t take much time but could make a difference to your journey.

Swapping to winter tyres is a great idea but it is often expensive so you need to weigh up how often you will actually be driving in the bad conditions.

Getting your tyre sizes right

All drivers should know where and how to find the size of tyres fitted on their vehicle. It is quite easy to find this information out, but you do need to know where to look. On the side of every tyre is printed the size it is normally written like 195/55/ R15 87V. If we break this down we can see that it tells us a lot of information about the tyre. The first number in this example is the tyre width in mm, the second is the type height as a percentage of the width and the third letter and number is the diameter. The next number (87) is the load capacity and the final letter is the speed rating. All of this information tells you what you need to know to select the right tyre for your vehicle. There is not necessarily only one tyre size that will fit your car and some cars have different sized tyres on the front to those on the back.

If you are looking to buy a new tyre it is important to check the size of the tyre in which you want to replace in case it is different. You should also check to see that the tyre on the other side of the axle also matches that, if not you may need to get both tyres replaced or ensure the new one matches the one on the other side.

 

Knowing which tyres to buy

If you go to a garage and enquire about having new tyres fitted, you may be a little overwhelmed at the choice you have available to you. You may hear the terms part worn or budget and not have a clue which ones you need. Below are a few examples of different choices you have:

Part worns – these are tyres that have been previously fitted to another vehicle so do not have the full tread on them. They often come from other countries where the legal limits are higher than in Britain, allowing them to be resold here. The problem with part worns is they may only have 3 or 4 mm of tread left on, which is the depth in which most garages recommend you change them anyway.

Budget tyres are brand new but the cheapest range. They vary drastically in quality depending on the make but you should be able to find out information such as wet grip rating, road noise and fuel efficiency.

Premium tyres are usually the most expensive but often have the best ratings, they are usually brands such as Continental or Bridgestone. Often they will cost upwards of £65 each depending on the make and size.

 

 

Breakdown cover explained

When looking to take out breakdown cover, it can be a little confusing as to which package you should choose. Almost all breakdown companies have a variety of packages that offer different levels of cover and if you are not careful, you can easily take out something that is pretty useless to you. First decide when and how you would like t be assisted should you breakdown. If you just want roadside assistance then you may be able to get away with the cheapest package on offer. If however you would need to be recovered home or to a garage of your choice, closer to your home, then you will often need to pay a little extra. If you would be really stuck without your car then you may even want to add home start, which will allow a breakdown expect to come to your home and investigate an issue would your car not start. Some breakdown companies also offer a hire car or overnight accommodation should you breakdown and your car cannot be fixed at the side of the road. If you have children this may be a good option for you as you do not want to be stranded in another part of the country in the middle of the night with no where to stay.

 

Should you buy a car with little or no MOT?

All cars over three years old need to have a valid Mot to be able to drive on the roads in normal circumstances (e.g. not driving to / from a test station). The MOT test itself usually costs between £35 and £55 pounds but if it fails, it could cost thousands to repair depending on what car it is and what it failed on.

Some people do try and sell cars with little or no MOT but this is usually for a reason. If they think the car may fail the MOT then they will often not want to put it in as the failure can be found on the internet by anyone with the reg number. If they are confident it will pass then they would probably put it in for the MOT as they are likely to make more than the cost of the test if they were selling the vehicle with 12 months MOT rather than none.

If when you go to look at a car you find it only has a month or so left on it then you could say that you will buy the car if they will put it through the MOT and it passes.