Category: Media

Holiday Advice for Driving This Christmas

According to a recent survey among AA members, 59% of the people interviewed are planning on driving on December 21st, the Friday leading to the Christmas weekend.

Saturday is also expected to be a busy day for motorists with the same research showing how 53% of the interviewed are planning some driving for shopping, visiting family and friends or on their way to sporting events.

Christmas Day is usually one of the quietest days of the year for driving. However, if you are planning some driving before December 25th, make sure you keep an eye and ear out for the latest traffic reports.

Hopefully you won’t need it but just in case here’s the contact details for the major breakdown services in the UK operating over the whole Christmas period. If you’ve not done so already, you should consider taking out breakdown cover:

GEM Motoring Assist – 0330 999 2505
AA – 0800 88 77 66
Green Flag – 0800 051 0636
Britannia Rescue – 0800 929 111
RAC – 0333 2000 999

Besides some some extra tips on the things that you should get for your car this winter, we would also recommend that you pay particular attention to drink driving and driving when you are tired.

With people planning work parties, visiting friends and family and shopping over the Christmas season, it’s best to be more aware about the blood alcohol level allowed. It’s also important to note how getting behind the wheel the morning after a night of drinking is no guarantee that you will be under such a limit.

Drinking is often associated with fatigue and tiredness but the latter alone is also a sign that you don’t really want to drive, especially if this means going on a long trip.

Stats released by the government show how over 20% of car accidents on major roads are actually caused by people driving while tired.

So make sure you get a proper night sleep and if you get caught by tiredness along your journey, pull over to a safe spot like a gas station and have a cup of coffee before setting off again.

 

 

Winter Shopping List for Your Car

In this article, we’re going to focus on giving you some extra tips on the things that you should get for your car this winter. Anti-freeze liquids, tyres or new set of windscreen wipers are not the only things to put on your shopping list.

Winning the war with winter requires the supply of few other components like a window scraper and a snow brush. A snow shovel is useful if you find ourselves stranded in one spot for too long. Also, do not forget about the battery cables as your battery may give up on you unexpectedly one day.

If you want to quickly get rid of the ice and frost from windows, special defrosters and anti-icing products are available. You can also use a special cover for the front and side windows. However, some drivers find this step a bit fiddly and troublesome to follow. In that case, you may want to try a slightly less effective, but simpler solution. Try covering the windshield with a piece of cardboard.

Speaking of anti-freeze liquids and lubricants, don’t forget about getting a defroster for your door locks if you happen to drive an older car.

If you have planned further road trips during this winter, do not forget about bringing little gadgets with you as well. Items like a flashlight, blanket and thermos with hot drink inside are like your little, indispensable helpers on the road.

Make sure to fill up your car and never drive with less than half a tank.

With today’s cars, it is not recommended to warm up the cold engine at a standstill.

After igniting the engine, leave as soon as possible, so that the car can warm up while on the move.

Take special precautions if you get stuck in a long, winter traffic jam. In this situation, the car can quickly lose the right temperature. It is advisable to limit the heating so that the heat from the engine is not entirely transferred into the interior of the cabin.

In order to save the battery, in emergency situations, it is worth giving up the use of such facilities as rear window heating, mirrors and armchairs. Adjusts those settings accordingly.

Once you reach your destination don’t forget to avoid using your manual hand-break, otherwise you may not be able to release it the next day. Try to park on a even surface if possible.

Last but not least, wear proper clothes and bring with you some extras like sunglasses, scarf and good pair of winter gloves.

As always, stay safe on the road and be mindful of others.

Steel Wheels or Alloy Wheels for Winter

As the winter season approaches, many drivers are faced with the same dilemma of replacing summer tyres with winter tyres. But that’s not all. Drivers also have to take into consideration the type of rims they should use each winter – aluminium or steel?

Many drivers are opposed using aluminium rims due to unwanted corrosion and premature wear of the aluminium rims caused by chemical reaction with salt, grit and other chemicals used for de-icing the roads by de-icer trucks.

Yet, on the other hand, rust can also affect steel rims too. What’s really important to understand during this comparison is the production process involved in manufacturing both aluminium and steel rims.

Aluminium rims are usually going through a three-stage post-production process during which anti-corroding undercoat is applied to the moulded surface first, followed by the right selection of coloured lacquer and lastly application of transparent coating is added for extra colour protection of the rim. This production technique increases the rim’s resistance to corrosion.

On the contrary, steel rims typically receive fewer layers of protective lacquer/coating, making them more vulnerable and prone to faster corrosion. In terms of the material strength – modern, good quality aluminium rims tend to be more resistant to mechanical damage.

So the question is what rims should you use this winter?

 

It all depends on the winter conditions in your area or your holiday plans this winter i.e. going skiing in Alpes.

If you already have both types of rims in your garage at your disposal, the only thing you have to worry about is the proper maintenance of your rims during the winter season.

It involves getting the right cleaning and protective products for your aluminium or steel rims and using them whenever there’s a visible build-up of dirt and mud.

If you don’t neglect this process, your rims are going to serve you well for many years to come.

If you don’t own aluminium rims but seriously consider buying and using them during winter periods,  avoid buying cheap ones as they may not survive harsh conditions due to their low build quality and may pose serious threat on the road. Also pay closer attention to the pattern used on those rims. Simple in design (i.e. 5-arm rims) without any fancy polishing and chrome applications are the way to go.

Last but not least, when the winter season is over, make sure to clean and store all your rims in optimal conditions.

Enjoy riding this winter!

Four Tips for Tyre Maintenance & Storage

Cars on the market are increasingly technological and equipped with state-of-the-art security systems. But for how much technology they can feature, road safety is always a matter of tyres . For this they must be of quality, in the first instance, and subjected to a careful and constant maintenance. According to a European survey, 85.7% of road accidents in European countries were preceded by a slowdown . If the correct functioning of the braking system is essential, it is extremely important that the tyre conditions are optimal. Otherwise, the chances of a claim increase. But it is not just a matter of safety: regular maintenance will increase the life of your tyres, thus guaranteeing savings over time.

Here are 4 simple tips to keep the tyres of your car in good shape .

ATTENTION TO THICKNESS

The maintenance of the tyre starts with checking the tread , whose thickness must never go below 1.6 mm . Below this threshold, the tread grip is no longer optimal (therefore the braking distance is longer) and can increase aquaplaning in the event of rain.When the tyre reaches this thickness, it must be replaced immediately with a newer model.

MONTHLY MONITORING OF THE PRESSURE

Pressure is another factor that must be monitored every month to protect the tyres from premature wear. Inadequate pressure, too high or too low, can damage the tyres and even be the first indicator of millimeter punctures .

Additionally, it increases fuel consumption (when the pressure is low) and reduces the life of the tyres (if too high).

When checking monthly, it is recommended to check the status of the spare wheel too.

CHECK THE BALANCING

Another important aspect for the life of the tyres is a correct balancing .

This operation must be performed every time one or more tyres are replaced. Otherwise, vibrations and stresses increase as the treads wear out irregularly.

HOW TO STORE YOUR TYRES

We are approaching the winter tyre change . Summer tyres, if in good condition, how should they be kept? Many tyre dealers offer a storage service, useful for those who do not have adequate storage space. Otherwise, you need a constantly ventilated, dry and cool room.

Never leave the tyres under direct sunlight or bad weather. Nor leave them stacked in a horizontal position for months.

5 Things to Do to Prepare the Car for the Winter

Although some temperatures might remind us of the summer, autumn has  started, and with it the season when driving conditions change due to rain and lower temperatures.

A direct consequence for motorists (especially for those who use the car for the daily commute), is that they need to check their own means of transport and make a check-up aimed at driving on the road in the safest and most efficient way. Here are 5 steps to follow if you want to make sure you are ready for the coldest season.

1 – Liquids control

Now that the summer and the long journeys to reach the holiday destinations are in the past, the first thing to do is to check the oil level and proceed with a top up in case there is a shortage. Good practice is to check every 2000 km, and to change it every 10,000 routes, to avoid damage to the engine.

2 – Check the tyres

In some European countries there is an obligation by law to install winter tyres.

It is recommended to check the condition of the tyres regardless of the legal obligation, making sure that the pressure is adequate and that they are not too worn: to guarantee maximum efficiency, the tread must never be less than 1.6 mm thick.

3 – Brakes control

Even the brakes should be given a lot of attention in the light of the different road conditions with the lowering of temperatures: pads and discs (or drums, if still present) must be in optimal condition, and the level of the system liquid must never fall below the recommended threshold to ensure the best performance in the event of braking.

4 – Battery check

Modern batteries do not need special care, in fact they are often sealed . In those where you can unscrew the stoppers, you can check the level of liquids and top up with distilled water until the reference mark is reached. It is important to always use gloves to avoid direct contact with corrosive substances.

If the car takes a suspiciously long time to start or a lot of time has passed since the last change (the average battery life is about 4-5 years), it is better to invest in a new one: in the coldest season the risk of being discharged is higher, with consequent inconvenience.

5 – Glass and windscreen wipers controls

Last but not least, the control of the windshield wipers and glass: with a drastic lowering of temperatures a small crack can easily cause the windshield to break, and in the rainy season it is essential to have windshield wipers able to keep it clean and ensure optimal visibility under a storm.

The level of the washer fluid and the use of an antifreeze should also be evaluated in view of lowering temperatures in areas where the thermometer may approach zero. It is also a good idea to keep a rubber scraper in the car to clean the glass if ice is formed, which is not uncommon at night.

Wide or Narrow Tyres for the Winter Season?

It’s a question that is often asked by motorists: are narrow tyres more suitable for the winter season? In the past the answer would have been certainly yes, but now things have definitely changed.

The main reason why in the past it was recommended to install narrow tyres in winter had to do with better driving in snowy conditions (“cutting the snow”), but modern winter tyres “work” based on another principle, they do not try to cut the snow. Instead they make the car adhere perfectly , using the numerous lamellae present on the tread, exploiting the phenomenon called “snowball”.

So a wider tread provides a greater surface area , a greater number of slats, and a better grip on the snow.

This translates into a better grip in almost all conditions , on dry, wet and snow or ice, translating into better grip, better braking distances and more safety.

On the other hand, the larger surface also produces negative effects, caused by the increased friction, such as slightly higher fuel consumption and a slightly lower tread life.

Narrow tyres in winter: what changes

Narrow tyres have a great advantage in case of stagnation of water , when the rain hits hard and the asphalt has stagnant water, the central tread channels may not be able to expel the water fast enough, in this case creating the aquaplaning effect, and the tyres start to “float” on the water creating a dangerous loss of control for the vehicle.

Narrow tyres reduce the risk of aquaplaning .

But this result is achieved to the detriment of performance in almost every other circumstance, in braking, in lateral curves, in acceleration, and in the event of sudden changes in direction (perhaps caused by the need to avoid an obstacle).

Even on snow and ice, a narrower tyre has less grip, less road holding, and less directionality than a wider tyre.

Always choose the measures approved by the manufacturers

In order not to make mistakes and risk fines or even the stop of the vehicle it is always good to consult the vehicle registration before choosing your tyres.

The vehicle registration document shows the measures allowed for the vehicle, and they are the only ones allowed, in case of checks by the traffic police you can risk up to 300 euros fine and the seizure of the vehicle, better not to take risks.

Why Do Car Tyres Lose Pressure?

Tyre dealers and car tyre dealers recommend periodic tyre pressure monitoring , which is essential for several reasons; in case of loss of pressure, in fact, driving safety decreases – in particular road holding and adherence of the covers – increases fuel consumption and leads to greater wear of the tread, which will also be more exposed to risk of punctures and damage.

 

What are the causes of loss of pressure in tyres?

There might be several reasons:

  • faulty or damaged valve causing air to leak inside the tyre
  • incorrect positioning of the valve on the hole in the rim
  • small cuts or holes in the rubber that generate a slow loss of pressure, a different phenomenon from the drilling that usually leads to a rapid deflation
  • low temperatures : yes, in winter the loss of pressure is more frequent and to overcome this problem the inflation pressure must be slightly higher
  • penetration of the air through the components that make up the tyre
  • damage of various types to the rim, such as splitting, scratching or rusting
  • inner layer of the tyre leaking seal thus favoring the escape of air
  • possible damage to the “heel” of the rubber occurred during assembly / disassembly on the rim
  • residues of dirt or foreign bodies between the heel of the cover and the rim

All these elements could lead to not having an optimal tyre pressure , so the checks must be periodic, roughly once a month.

 

What is the correct inflation pressure?

The value changes according to the model of the car and to know how many atmospheres you have to inflate the tyres of your car you can check on the registration or on the inside of the cap of the tank. An aid to drivers comes from technology : starting from November 2014 , in fact, all the cars sold within the European Union must be equipped with the TPMS system, ie sensors that automatically detect the tyre pressure. Thanks to this system, specific equipment is required to provide for the disassembly and assembly of seasonal tyres, to avoid damage and ensure the correct operation of the device. Through these sensors the driver is informed if the tyre pressure is correct and if it is necessary to intervene in case of deflation.The TPMS system can be of two types, direct – offers real-time pressure information and is mounted on high-end vehicles – and indirect, on board instead of cars belonging to lower classes. This way the control and the information related to the inflation pressure are more accurate and the driver does not have to manually check the pressure level of his tyres. For all cars sold before November 2014, the control is manual and can be done by the car owner or the trusted tyre repairer.

 

Back-to-school Car Care Tips

September is the back-to-school month. This means for some parents driving their children back and forth to and from school. For college students it might mean driving to their faculty to attend classes and back. Some students, the ones who live not too far from their university, might use their car to go back to their hometown on weekends, which sometime can lead to 1-2 hours of driving often under the rain.

Whether you are a student or a parent, before getting back into the school routine you might want to double-check that your car is in order. Here we give some basic but essential tips to make sure your back-to-school is as smooth as possible:

  1. Tyres – Improper tyre pressure could lead to a higher consume of petrol (= less kms per litre). It can also increase wear and tear, which could force you to replace your tyres sooner than expected. It’s good practice to check your tyre pressure monthly and also to check for wear and tear by inserting an upside-down penny in the tread groove. If you can see the side top of the coin, you might need to start considering replacing the tyres.
  2. Fluids – Checking the fluids means regular oil changes but it also means checking on the transmission, brakes, coolants and last but not least the windshield wiper fluid, which needs to be topped up to ensure you have good visibility in poor weather.
  3. Seatbelts –  Wearing a seatbelt is one of the most effective ways to avoid serious injury in an accident. Airbags alone are not enough to protect you. Make sure your seatbelt is on and secured tightly across the pelvis and rib cage.
  4. Lights –  Malfunctioning headlights can impair the visibility of your car, which can bevery dangerous at night or in poor weather conditions. On the other hand, failing rear lights make it hard for other cars to see you. Turn your lights on while the car is in park, and walk around the entire vehicle to make sure your headlights, rear lights, blinkers and hazards are functioning properly. Replace any broken bulbs as soon as possible.
  5. Brakes – Worn brakes impede your ability to stop quickly and can cause your car to travel farther before coming to a halt — making it more likely you’ll find yourself in an accident. To avoid that, a professional mechanic should check your vehicle’s brakes regularly, preferably as part of a routine maintenance check performed during regular oil changes.
  6. Battery – There’s nothing worse than coming out of classes after a long day, only to find your car won’t start. If your car is sluggish to start or if the dashboard lights or radio are giving you trouble, it may be a sign you need a new battery. Also, batteries only last three to five years, so if you’ve had yours a long time, it’s probably time for a new one. Your mechanic can test your battery during routine maintenance and oil changes.

Car Maintenance Tips: Brakes

August is the last month of the Summer. It’s also the last month of holidays before students go back to school. It’s also a month many people like to take their holidays in. Whether you are taking your holidays in August or not, it’s probably a good time (it’s always a good time!) to do a quick check up to make sure your car brakes are ready for the challenge.

Brake pad wear
On many vehicles, you can check your brake pads by looking through the spaces in the wheel rims. If the outer pad is less than ¼-inch thick, the pads need to be replaced. The longer you wait, the more you risk causing expensive damage to other parts of the brake system.

Squealing, screeching, scraping or grinding noises
When your brake pads get thin, a metal wear indicator on the pad emits a high-pitched squeal that lets you know it’s time to have your brakes checked (before any damage is done). But if you hear the grinding or scraping sound of metal-on-metal, it could mean you’ve waited too long and you’re damaging the rotors every time you brake. Get to a service station as soon as possible.

Decreased stopping power
If the brakes are “mushy” or feel like they’re sinking to the floor when you press on the pedal, you might have a leak in the air hose or brake fluid line.

The car vibrates or pulls to one side when braking
While these symptoms have a variety of possible causes, they could indicate warped rotors, uneven wear on the brake pads or other brake-related problems that need to be addressed by a trained mechanic.

Safety Tips for Driving in the Summer

Summer means higher volumes of traffic into the roads and particularly on motorways. Regardless of whether you are planning a short day-trip or a long-journey, you might want to take a few steps in order to drive you and your loved ones to your final destinations safely.

 

Before you go

Ask yourself: is your car ready for the journey? If it’s not or you are not sure, take a look at our articles Is Your Car Ready for the Summer? And Car Maintenance Tips for the Summer.

 

On the road

There are a number of boxes that, if ticked, they will certainly improve the safety and comfort of your road trip. Here’s some:

  • Always use seat belts & the correct restraint/booster seat for your child
  • Leave early or later to avoid the rush
  • Keep a safe distance – use the two second rule
  • If you’re tired, stop & take a break – even for just 10 minutes
  • Don’t drink & drive
  • Don’t use a hand held mobile phone when driving
  • ALWAYS expect the unexpected!

We feel particular attention needs to be paid if children and / or pets are among the passengers in your car. Specifically:

 

Summer driving with children

Long car trips with children can be the stuff of nightmares. Here are some ideas to help you arrive safe and still in the holiday mood:

  • Take turns driving & looking after the kids with your partner so that the driver can just concentrate on the driving
  • Bring along some in car entertainment. Books, Magnetic Games, Story Tapes or even a DVD, but avoid distracting the driver
  • Play games – Number plate game, count the red cars, eye spy, etc
  • Take breaks – everyone will benefit from some fresh air & a stretch of the legs
  • Bring along snacks and water/drinks
  • Don’t forget some wet wipes!

 

Summer driving with Pets

Make your pet travel experience enjoyable by following these simple, common sense tips:

  • Never leave a pet unattended in a car during the summer
  • Bring plenty of water with you & something for your pet to drink from
  • Pets should always be suitably restrained while the car is moving
  • Don’t allow your dog to put its head out of the car while it is moving

No matter where you are going or who you’re sharing your trip with, the choice of your tyres can literally go a long way. By choosing Zeetex tyres you will make sure both yourself and your loved ones will have a comfortable and safe journey to the Summer destination of your dreams.