road safety

Winter Safety, how to set off safely in winter

Checking the conditions of your car and tyres can avoid unpleasant surprises during your journeys this winter season

Home life sustainability road safety Winter Safety, how to set off safely in winter

Making the appropriate checks, before each journey, guarantees you'll travel with peace of mind. Checking the efficiency of your car and tyres is essential for your safety. In cold seasons, the weather conditions and the high probability of facing journeys made more challenging by rain, snow or ice, require the car to be in perfect conditions.

Stop by a specialist centre

Smiley faceThe advice is to carry out a general check on all aspects of the vehicle. This will not only reduce the chances of unforeseen events, but also the risks to both personal and other people's safety. Specialised workshops will examine the major components of your car, like the brakes, checking the oil level in the circuits, the brake calipers and discs, the engine and the hydraulic system to make sure that all key components are working as expected.

Tyre health

Alongside the health of your vehicle, the health of your tyres is just as important, as they are the only point of contact between the vehicle and the road surface. You need to check the condition of the tread, any damage, excessive wear and all the problems that come up on a tyre: not a single aspect should ever be underestimated.

As for the tread pattern, which consists of channels and blocks, it can no longer hold a wet or slippery road appropriately when there are only 4 mm of depth left. Hence, checking your tyres once a week can fend off probable safety risks. Doing this before reaching the limit shown by the wear indicator is quick and easy: simply take a 2 Euro coin (or a 1 Euro coin on summer tyres) and place it in a groove. You should not be able to see its edge. If you can, it is time to go to a tyre fitter.

Also worth reading: How to identify worn out tyres

The rubber sidewall is critical as it can be damaged by scraping against the kerb while parking or could be punctured by sharp objects run over while travelling. It is advisable to check these areas as well before starting off in order to detect any tears or suspicious bulges, and have an expert evaluate the situation and suggest the right solution.

Tyre pressure

The pressure level of each tyre is equally important. Excessive wear, for example, may be caused by an underlying unnoticeable mechanical problem but is more likely determined by incorrect inflation pressure. In all cases, it is advisable to go to a tyre specialist once every six months to check toe-in and uniform tyre height, appropriate compound alignment and balancing and to certify efficient road behaviour with the goal of avoiding potential safety and road holding risks.

Excessive wear on the tyre edge could be indicative of inaccurate wheel balancing or alignment. Excessively low or high inflation pressure, compared to the value required and stated on the vehicle owner's handbook for the type of vehicle, may cause evident anomalous wear on both edges or in the middle of the tyre.

The spare wheel

Thoroughly check the spare wheel too, if you have one. Although it may appear to be in good shape because you have used it just once or maybe never, remember that a tyre usually loses its efficiency after ten years. It is therefore advisable for it to be in good condition, in case you need to use it, and you should also make sure the tools you have available to inflate or replace a tyre are all there and in perfect working order. You might, for instance, puncture a tyre or have another issue without being able to reach a service centre right away.

Under these circumstances, as you wait for the rescue vehicle to arrive, make sure you pull over safely in a dedicated parking area, ensure everyone present is calm and that there are no other issues to deal with. After donning the high-visibility jacket so that approaching motorists can see you on the open road, place the emergency warning triangle about one hundred metres back from where you have stopped and wait for the road rescue service to come.