Monday saw the coldest night of the year so far, with temperatures falling as low as -13°C in some parts of the UK.
Up and down the country, fleet drivers will now be allowing for extra time in the mornings, to scrape the ice off their windows and give the engine a few moments to warm up before setting off. However, according to Goodyear Tyres, it is equally important to put the same care and attention into checking how the sub-zero temperatures affect tyres.
Below are five tips from Goodyear, to help fleets ensure their tyres are at their best during the winter months.
1. Check your pressures regularly
It’s important to regularly check your tyre pressures throughout the winter. Lower temperatures can cause tyre pressures to drop, meaning the contact patch will be larger and making it more difficult to gain traction on snow and ice. Always run your tyres to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI or BAR.
2. Tread carefully
Having adequate tread depth is essential, whatever the weather. However, when your tyres are trying to grip wet and icy roads, it’s even more important that they have suitable tread. The legal limit for minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, across three-quarters of the tread and around the entire circumference of the tyre. As well as helping tyres grip to the road more effectively throughout the winter months, regular tread depth checks can help to avoid 3 penalty points and a £2,500 fine by keeping a vehicle’s tread above the legal limit.
3. Consider fitting winter tyres
Most cars are fitted with summer tyres as standard, as opposed to winter or all season tyres. However, the compound on summer tyres remains hard in cold temperatures, whereas a winter or all season tyre retains its pliability in colder weather and moulds to the shape of the road to retain grip. As a result, the sipes in the tread design of a winter or all season tyre will grip to snowy and icy roads much more effectively.
Most manufacturers will recommend using winter tyres in temperatures below 7°C. Considering that temperatures are now reaching lows of -13°C, it’s time for fleet managers to think seriously about replacing their vehicles’ summer tyres.
4. Know your braking distances
If you are using summer tyres in winter conditions, you will need to re-evaluate your braking distances. Research from the British Tyre Manufacturers Association (BTMA) shows that when braking on icy roads at 20mph, a car fitted with winter tyres will come to a rest after 57m, while summer tyres will keep going for as far as 68m. Regardless of what kind of tyres they are using, it’s vital that drivers keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
5. How does the tyre look?
While it’s important to carry out proven checks on your tyre pressures and tread, it’s also important to simply look for cosmetic damage. Look for rips, tears or bulges before setting off and make sure to check your pressure, especially if your car hasn’t moved for a few days.
David Morris, Business Account Manager – Fleet & Public Sector, Goodyear Tyres, comments: “It’s no secret that with snow and ice on the roads, as well as fewer daylight hours to aid visibility, winter weather can make every-day jobs more dangerous for drivers. Fleets must encourage their drivers to take all possible precautions, in order to ensure a safe journey. Correctly maintaining your vehicles’ tyre pressures and tread, and even considering fitting your fleet with winter tyres, can go a long way to preparing your drivers for the challenging weather conditions throughout the winter.”