As the season transitions into winter, bad weather conditions soon appear. Rainy days and freezing temperatures, soon make for icy roads and dangerous driving conditions, meaning you should take extra care with your car maintenance.
This time of year reminds me of when I used to take all my professional exams in Birmingham. January was re-sit month, so if you were in Birmingham in January, sitting your exams, it was because something had gone wrong in the summer. A few years ago, I was one of those re-sit students, which meant I was driving around Birmingham on some pretty icy roads.
Birmingham has some tricky traffic if you don’t know the area (or perhaps even if you do!). For starters, it’s much bigger than you think and it has loads of sub-areas like Springfield, or Wells Green, so if you’d bad with directions (like me) bad weather ups the ante.
I recall being a little bit lost in Birmingham on a snowy day and skidding the tiniest bit. Even though no damage was done, I remember it totally terrified me and I remember ringing my friend from the area and dragging her out along with her husband.
The slight skidding had scared the life out of me, and I was convinced there was something wrong with my tyres. My friend relayed a message through her husband that said if for any reason I needed new tyres, I could buy tyres in Birmingham from Point S.
While I waited for my friend and her husband to come out to me, I sat Googling all the problems faulty or badly looked after tyres could cause. I’d always been quite bad are car maintenance back then, and I kept thinking how lucky I was that I hadn’t caused a crash.
I was certain my relaxed attitude towards the upkeep of my car had put me in danger. I already knew about tyre pressure, and I’d checked that my tyres were neither over or under inflated before I had set off. If I’m honest, I’d only done that because my mum had insisted I should.
Knowing the pressure was right and I had no punctures/cracks etc, I was a little concerned that my tread was a bit low. I’d forgotten how my driving instructor said I should check and I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for.
My friend and her husband arrived, and the husband gave my car a once over. Thankfully, everything was fine, and I didn’t need to beg anyone for emergency repairs. I’d just braked a little heavily in icy condition and I was safe to carry on home after my exam (after we’d all gone for cake and a coffee).
My friend’s husband left me with these fab tips:
- Check your car’s manual for tyre pressure, tyres can be over or under inflated and both are dangerous. Check once a month and before long journeys to be extra sure.
- The legal limit for tyre tread depth is 1.6mm in the UK, but realistically, if it even gets close to that, you’re not really all that safe.
- Always replace your tyres well before the legal minimum tread is reached.
- If you’re very worried about winter driving, you can have winter weather tyres fitted for the cold months.
- Check tyres for lumps, cracks and bulges before any long journeys, if you spot any abnormalities, get the tyres check by a professional – they might need replacing.
- Take more care when driving in icy conditions, try and take main roads that have been gritted and always leave more space between your car and the car in front to allow for longer stopping distance.
Hopefully these tips will save you getting overly panicked when driving in towns and cities you don’t know so well!