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Winter holidays:
how to prepare for safety

Checking the conditions of your car and tyres, in particular, can avoid unpleasant surprises while you are on the way to your winter holiday destination

Home road Winter holidays:
how to prepare for safety
Winter holidays:
how to prepare for safety

The right checks before setting off mean untroubled travelling to the place you have chosen for your holidays. Checking the efficiency of your car and tyres is essential for your safety. In the winter, bad weather is very likely and the roads are made more treacherous by rain, snow and ice. This implies that everything must be in shipshape conditions, including the driver, who must be rested and calm. So, before setting off on the road towards the place you have picked to enjoy a bit of well-deserved relax, taking your car for a check-up is more than advisable. In this way, you will reduce the possibility of unpleasant contingencies and consequently avoid wasting time waiting for rescue and repairs. You will save money, but more importantly you will avoid much graver risks for your safety and that of other road users, passengers and pedestrians.

Winter holidays: how to prepare for safety

Smiley faceSo, it is always advisable to turn to the experts for a complete vehicle check-up before setting off. Specialised workshops will examine the major components of your car, like the brakes, checking the oil level in the circuit and the discs, the engine and the hydraulic systems to make sure that all key components are working as expected. It is important to check the space-saver or standard spare wheel, too It must be in good shape and ready for use. Make sure that the inflation equipment is also in good conditions and that the tool set needed to replace the wheel, if you are forced to by a puncture, is complete. The possibility of puncturing a tyre or breaking down without being able to reach service centre right away is something you always need to take into account. In these cases, if you need to wait for rescue, stop the vehicle safely in a parking area, make sure that everyone else is calm and that there are no other problems. 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 rescue to come. However, a detailed check-up could avoid this unpleasant experience.

The health of your tyres is as important as that of your vehicle. They are the only point of contact between the car and the road and the actual contact surface is, in average, only slightly larger than an adult's palm. The tyre tread is vital for running efficiency, but so are other features.
Damage, excessive wear and other issues, some of which very obvious, must never be underestimated. Equally important is the pressure of each tyre. Excessive wear, for example, may be caused by an underlying 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 roadholding 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 required value stated on the vehicle owner's handbook may cause marked anomalous wear on both edges or in the middle of the tyre.

The tyre sidewall is critical as it can be damaged by scraping against the kerb while parking or could be punctured by sharp objects picked up while travelling. It is advisable to check these areas as well before starting off. It is a good idea to have an expert check out any tears or suspicious bulges to evaluate the situation and suggest the right solution. Do not forget the spare wheel, 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 loses its efficiency usually after ten years.

The tread pattern, which consists of channels and blocks, can no longer hold a wet or slippery road appropriately when there are only 4 mm of depth left. For this reason, checking your tyres once a week can fend off probable 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 its edge. If you can, it is time to go to a tyre fitter. 
If you need to replace just two tyres it is advisable to equip the vehicle with tyres similar to the old ones. These are usually positioned on the rear axle, regardless of whether the vehicle has front or rear wheel drive to dispel the risk of dangerous skidding effects or pronounced oversteering. In this way, you will optimise roadholding. It is also not advisable to fit radial and non-radial tyres on the same vehicle. This operation should be limited to cases of extreme need and for a very short time only if a particular situation arises. If this temporary solution must be adopted, however, you are advised to put the radial and non-radial tyres on the same axle. Fit the radials on the rear axle and the non-radials on the front axle. 

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