Archive for October, 2011

There’s snow tyres like snow tyres, like snow tyres I know

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Forget the jazz hands, it’s about to become all cold and skiddy again. Tomorrow I’m going to rudely wake up my winter tyres from hibernation at Kwik Fit’s ‘tyre hotel’ (a warehouse in Milton Keynes, I think). I know it isn’t cold right now, but I’d rather be prepared and slightly smug if the curtains open to be greeted with thick white stuff next week.

The Family Carperv Cube is almost ready to step in the ring with Jack Frost (not the Sierra driving detective from Denton), as during last month’s MoT I got its crevices pumped with Waxoyl. It’s alarming how quickly you can lose 5-litres of the stuff under a car, but it is by far the best way of mummifying your undercarriage. For two hours labour and £30 of waxoyl the thing is ready to laugh in the face of countless council gritters.

I was a bit of a winter tyre sceptic until i had some fitted to a previous long-term test Hyundai i10. The difference was like night and day. With a set of cold weather spec Contis on the Cube, it became apparent that there was no real urgency for my wife to follow many other wives and spend £40,000 on a Disco4 – nice steeds though they are.

The grip and steering ability on winters is just superb. So good that we forgot ours were on until it hit April. On something non performance orientated, I’d say they make a fantastic year-round tyre. In the midst of the snowy chaos these little 14s allowed us to make the trek from Lincolnshire to Snowdonia (via the Peak District) in January without getting stuck once. They don’t just work on snow, but when the temp dips below 7-degrees C.

You know what, if nothing else winter tyres will help keep Britain’s economic chin up during the harsh weather, instead of half a million motorists simply not arriving at work. When not throwing rocks at banks or waving volcanic dust towards Heathrow, other countries must be laughing at how pathetic Brits are with the cold spells.

A lot of folks are complaining at how expensive winter tyres are. Well, they are cheaper than an ’11 plate Suzuki Jimny. And let’s not forget that they will probably last 4 winters or so. And of course when you’re running on the winter tyres, you ain’t wearing down your ‘normal’ treads. Sort of starts to make sense as a safer, useful investment, see?

It saves on the ridiculous panicking too.

Calm down dear, there’s no need to panic. All you’ve got to do is prepare. My dad always used to carry an entire bootful of stuff around with him. Not just jump leads, but a spare bloody battery. Maybe not that prepared, but stick a shovel, pack of Bourbons and warm unfashionable coat in your boot. I favour a roll of crappy carpet too, as it’s amazing how useful it becomes to shove under stuck-fast driving wheels.

Checking your car helps too. I know it sounds patronising, but you’d be amazed the number of strokers* who wait for an engine to boil over before they check the coolant levels. It takes 2 mins to pop the bonnet and keep an eye on your car’s mechanical heart/lungs/liver.

Now’s not a good time to trust that battery that you nicked off a friend’s car before they traded it in on the scrappage scheme. Buy the best batt you can afford, and you can never have too many cold cranking amps.

I will upload some more winter tips in a few days in an effort to prepare us Brits for the snow flake sign appearing on your dash.

Of course if you fancy bouncing off hedges between November and February, simply pick up a copy of the latest Ebay paper or Autotrader digital tablet leaflet and type in ‘Volvo 340’. For £300 you will have a lot of fun in the cold spells, but you will not be able to steer or drive anywhere. You will crash and you will be surviving on bourbons waiting for the recovery truck to carve its way to your rescue.

*a polite word for someone who… well…. you know.