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All Season and Winter Tyres

All Season Tyres – a compromise:


As the name suggest, all season tyres are designed to be used in all seasons, they are different to winter or snow tyres. The main difference is the different tyre compound used, which react differently in different temperatures. An all season tyre is a trade off that incorporates characteristics found in winter tyres, and also characteristics found in summer tyres. Should you be driving in snow or extremely cold climates, then an all season tyre probably is not right for you. However, in the UK an all season tyre can work well and be an excellent compromise.

Winter Tyres – designed for a purpose:


A winter or snow tyre has a self cleaning tread design that effectively cleans itself of snow as it drives. This allows the tyre to keep better traction when in snow.  A non-winter tyre is more likely to pack snow into the tread when driving. A winter tyre has a much softer rubber compound, which means in cold temperatures, the tread remains soft. As the temperature drops, a summer tyre, and to some degree an all season tyre, will  become harder and as a result offer less grip. Due to the softer tread, a winter tyre will wear quicker and is not suitable for summer use.

Benefits – All Season Tyres:

All season tyres are useful if you drive in a range of conditions. Summer tyres are designed for use for temperatures 7 degrees and above. An all season tyre is designed to work well in warmer temperatures, but also in colder temperatures too.

Disadvantages – All Season Tyres:

Being a jack of all trades means an all season tyre is a compromise. So although you enjoy it’s range of benefits, it’s neither a high performance summer tyre or a strong winter tyre. Depending on your climate you may find an all season tyre is too hard for real winter driving, or too soft for summer driving. An all season tyre would be best suited to a climate where there is no extremes in temperatures, such as in the UK. Having said that the UK can have very cold winters, and also very warm summer days – so again it is a compromise on what you want.

Benefits – Winter Tyres:

A winter tyres is a master of one thing – driving in the snow and in wintery conditions. Should you demand the very highest level of safety and are driving in very cold conditions a winter tyre is ideal. It has the ability to flush out snow from it’s treads and remains soft in cold temperatures, where non-winter tyres would become hard and offer less grip. Winter tyres provide more grip and shorter braking distances in snow and cold temperatures.

Disadvantages – Winter Tyres:

Winter tyres are not suitable for summer driving. The softer tyre compound makes them wear much quicker than summer or all weather tyres.

Enjoying the best of both worlds…

Many people use winter tyres in the winter, and swap to summer or all season tyres in the summer. Although this may sound expensive, the only real additional cost is paying a garage to swap your tyres over, and of course having to store them. A garage will usually charge around £30-£60 to swap the tyres over, and if you have space in your garage storage is free. You will be benefiting from safer motoring and your summer tyres will not be worn either.

Learn more about the difference between winter and summer tyres:

Safety at Level Crossings

A level crossing is where a road crosses a railway or a tramway line. In recent years there has been more awareness about how to deal safely with these crossings following various tragedies.

Level Crossing Tips:

If you have already crossed the white line when the amber light comes on keep going. Do not stop or hesitate. The amber light is a warning in the same way that an amber warning light on a traffic light is there to warn you.

You must never reverse onto a level crossing or across a level crossing.

If you have been waiting at a level crossing and the train or tram has passed, you should only cross when the lights have gone out and the barriers have fully open.

Never zigzag around half-barriers. They lower automatically when a train is coming. At a level crossing where there are no barriers, a train is approaching when the lights show.

Always exercise caution at level crossings and never enter a crossing if you can’t fully clear it. It could be disastrous should you be sitting in a line of traffic and a train approaches. Always look ahead, concentrate and don’t assume there will be enough space for your vehicle to safely clear the crossing if you are in heavy traffic.

If you breakdown on a level crossing you should get everyone out of the vehicle and clear the crossing immediately. If possible you should use the railway telephone to tell the operator and then carefully follow the instructions you are given.

If there is time you should try and move the vehicle from the crossing (only if there is time). If the alarm sounds and a train is on approach you should get fully clear of the vehicle.

Staying safe at level crossings is all about forward planning, concentration and being aware of the potential dangers they pose. Remember unlike a car, a train simply can’t stop very quickly. The impact of a train hitting a car is catastrophic and almost without question, fatal for any people unfortunate to be in a vehicle should the worst happen. Stay safe and respect level crossings.


Motorway Breakdown Tips


If you are reading this having just suffered a breakdown on a motorway we sympathise with you. However, safety first! When you have a breakdown on a motorway you should do the following:

Get Away From Danger:

Get your vehicle off the road if at all possible. Do not put yourself at risk if this is not at option. Sometimes vehicles breakdown in standstill traffic, giving no option for the driver to head towards the hard shoulder. Other times moving towards the relative safety of the hard shoulder is not possible for a number of reasons. Remember, the Police would you rather concern yourself with your own safety, than trying to dangerously move a broken-down vehicle.

Use The Hard Shoulder:

If you stop on the hard shoulder, keep as far to the left as possible, and ensure your vehicles wheels are turned to the left. This is to help stop the vehicle moving out towards the carriageway should the handbrake fail, or should the vehicle be hit from behind.

Try and stop near an emergency telephone, which are situated approximately one-mile intervals along the hard shoulder.

Leave the vehicle from the left door and ensure your passengers do the same. You MUST leave animals in the vehicle, or in an emergency, keep them under proper control on the verge.

Warning On-Coming Traffic:

Warn other traffic by using your hazard warning lights if your vehicle is causing an obstruction. Hazard warning lights are designed to indicate to other drivers that your vehicle is causing an obstruction.

If possible help other road users see you better. Wearing a light coloured top or even better, a high visibility vest or similar is ideal. You can buy a high-visibility vest from a number of online retailers – probably not much use to you right now if your reading this on the side of a motorway, but certainly something for the future to consider buying.

If it is possible – keep your sidelights on if it is dark or visibility is poor due to rain, fog or mist. Also do not stand or let anyone else stand between your vehicle and on coming traffic. Not only would this put you at risk of being hit, but your body could cover vehicle lighting on one side, which could cause on-coming traffic not to see you, or to think your vehicle is more over to the left than they thought (especially if you are covering the right side lights)

Don’t use a Warning Triangle on a Motorway:

Do you have a warning triangle? If not again, something you may want to consider buying in the future. However, note – you should NEVER use a warning triangle on a motorway – this is stated in the Highway Code. If you do have a breakdown on a road other than a motorway, then place it at least 45 metres (147 ft) behind your vehicle, on the same side of the road. Always take care then placing or recovering them.

Other Notes to Consider:

Do not attempt to perform even simple repairs on the side of a motorway

Ensure passengers and yourself are kept away from the carriageway and children and animals are kept under control.

If you can contact your breakdown service provider from your mobile – then do so once you are clear from the vehicle if possible. If you don’t have a mobile then walk to the nearest emergency telephone. Remember to follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder. When you are using these phones always face oncoming traffic.

If you feel at risk from another person, return to your vehicle by the left hand door and lock all doors. Leave your vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so.

If you are a lone female or a female with children, ensure you state this when calling your breakdown provider, or when talking to the operator from an emergency phone.

Once you are safely away from the vehicle, and are awaiting rescue, you should contact friends to say you will be late. Waiting times for recovery can range from 10 minutes to over 2 hours. Although you should have an indication of waiting times when you make the initial rescue call.

Good luck and we wish you a swift and safe recovery. Learn more about driving emergencies.

Dealing With Driving Emergencies

Dealing with an emergency situation whilst driving can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Being able to know what to do should the worst happen is essential. We have highlighted some of the most feared but perhaps the most common emergency situations drivers face.

Cracked Windscreen/Windscreen Repairs

A small chip can turn into a crack in cold weather. A sudden jolt such as hitting a speed bump too fast can also cause a chip to form into a crack on a windscreen. Whatever you do, ensure that as soon as you have a chip on your windscreen get it repaired – this will stop a crack forming in most cases.


Tyre manufacturers have learned that 75% of all accidents caused by tyre blowouts come about because of low tyre pressure. The term blowout usually describes a situation when a tyre bursts whilst travelling at speed. This will normally result in the vehicle losing directional stability and control; often a terrifying experience!

According to the tyre industry council, decorative wheel trims, fitted to many vehicles, can possibly cause sidewalls and valve assembly damage, which could lead to tyre blowouts. Although the majority of such trims can be perfectly ok it is worth checking that yours are not slightly oversized, which could cause problems.

Apart from low tyre pressure, one other main reason for blowouts is a defect in the tyre itself. This defect can be due to a weakness when it was manufactured (although this is rare with good quality makes) or more likely it happens when a tyre has been damaged, usually by being hit against a kerb. You can normally check for tyre damage by feeling for bulges in the tyre wall. Tyres that have little or no tread in places stand a greater chance of being involved in a blowout so it makes sense to keep a regular check on your tyres.

Front tyre blowout:

A front tyre blowout will result in the car pulling strongly to one side. If you have a blowout on the front left then the car will pull to the left. If this occurs try to make the car slow down on its own, engaging a lower gear will help. Try to keep a firm hold on the steering wheel.

Rear tyre blowout:

If one of your rear tyres suffers a blowout hold the steering wheel firmly and let the car slow down itself. If needed steer into any resulting skid (i.e. if the cars back end goes left steer left).

General Tips:

  1. Stay calm, be sharp and react quickly.
  2. Aim to bring your car to a standstill on the side of the road.
  3. If possible put your hazard warning lights on whilst still moving, this will alert other drivers that you are in trouble!
  4. Be proactive keep regular checks on your tyres.

As with all of our advanced driving courses our tutors provide further tips on how to deal with such situations.


Aquaplaning is when a wedge of water builds up between the front of the tyres and the road surface. This is normally caused by lack of tyre tread. Trying to brake or steer the vehicle will be no use because your tyres are no longer in contact with the road!

How to deal with aquaplaning

  1. Remove foot from the accelerator and allow engine braking to slow you down.
  2. Ensure you do not turn the steering wheel, as the car will lurch whatever way the wheels are pointing when they gain traction. More on dealing with skids
  3. Be proactive – check that your tyres are in good condition and that you have plenty of grip the legal requirement is 1.6mm as a minimum, however you should avoid getting down to this level.

Car Fires

Faulty wiring normally causes car fires. If you suspect that your car is on fire whilst moving your first thought should be to get out of the car ASAP.

How can you tell your car is on fire?

It is not always as obvious as it first appears. Sometimes you will have smoke coming up the vents in which case you should really be thinking about getting out! However, sometimes you may be able to spot early signs such as smelling burning plastic and toxic burning smells.

How to deal with a car fire

  1. The first thing to do is stop your car, ideally off the road.
  2. Turn off the ignition.
  3. If you have a fire extinguisher try to tackle it if it’s small, but remember your own safety.
  4. Do not open the bonnet if you think the fire is coming from there unless you have a fire extinguisher. If you do only open it slightly as the air can cause the flames to spread.
  5. Call the fire brigade ASAP ensuring you and all your passengers are well away from the car (at least 50 metres).

Brake Failure

Ensuring your car is serviced on a regular basis will greatly reduce the chance of brake failure. Brake failure can be best described as applying the foot brake and getting no response – simple!

How to deal with brake failure

If you have total brake failure it is best to apply the handbrake in an on/off motion. It is also advisable to try to select (even at force) a lower gear, the car may not like it but it could be your only way of stopping.

Learn more about the rules and regulations of motorway breakdowns here