It’s our job to keep you safe on the road. And we aim to do this by giving you all the info you need to stay safe, and keep your car in the best possible condition. If you’re unsure of anything we talk about in these FAQs, our service advisors at your local centre can help with any query you may have.
1. How are we keeping key workers on the road during the Coronavirus crisis?
First, we’re still open to keep essential workers’ vehicles roadworthy. Pop into a centre or call to make a booking to suit you. Having an MOT is the best way to detect any issues with your vehicle. If you suspect a fault, you can book with us online at selected stores or by phone.
2. What is the minimum legal tread depth?
The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm. And this needs to be a continuous band around the central three-quarters of the tyre — not just one groove.
Checking your tread depth is simple and there are two ways you can do this. The first — and most accurate way — is to use a tread depth gauge. Simply place the gauge into the main tread grooves at several points around the tyre. If it reads less than 1.6mm, you should replace your tyre as it’s illegal. Call into a local First Stop centre and they will happily perform the check for you.
If you haven’t got a tread depth gauge and you need to check your tyres immediately, you can do the 20p test.
3. Is a tread depth gauge a good idea?
Yes, as a tread depth gauge will give you the most accurate reading. While the 20p test comes in handy, it’s not 100% accurate.
4. How do I know the correct tyre size for my car?
You can find your tyre size in your vehicle’s handbook. Or, on the sidewall of your tyres — it looks like this: 245/40 R18. For more information visit Tyre Size Explained.
5. Why should I choose premium tyres?
If performance is paramount, premium tyres are your best option. As well as enhanced braking and handling, they also give you better traction in the wet. These are the two key differentiators between a premium and basic tyre. You can learn more about the tyres we offer here.
6. Would you recommend an all-season tyre?
Yes. All-season tyres are a great match for the UK’s unpredictable weather. They’re also extremely versatile and save you the hassle (and cost) of switching tyres mid-way through the year.
7. What do the markings mean on the side of my tyre?
Let’s use 205/55 R16 91V as an example:
- 205: This is the tyre width in millimetres.
- 55: This is the height or profile of the tyre sidewall (aspect ratio), expressed as a percentage of the tread width. In this case, the height of the tyre sidewall is 205×0.55 = 112.75mm.
- R16: Here’s the diameter of the wheel rim, measured in inches – the wheel rim is 16″ in this case.
- 91: This is the ‘load rating’ of the tyre. It’s a measure of the maximum weight it can support. 91 denotes a load rating of 615kg.
- V: The speed rating of the tyre. I.E. the maximum speed at which the tyre can support the maximum load. This should be higher than the maximum speed of the car. In this case, ‘V’ means a speed rating of up to 149mph.
For more information visit Tyre Size Explained
8. What can I do to improve my stopping distances?
Tips to improve your stopping distance
You’ll want to focus your attention on your vehicle’s tyres and brakes. First, make sure your tyres have a good level of grip — you’ll want at least 3mm tread depth. Also look at the type of tyre you have — is it budget or premium. If it's budget, consider switching to a more premium option to improve your grip, and thus, shorten your stopping distance. And, make sure your brakes are in good working order click here to find out more.
9. How can I check my tyre pressure?
You should check your tyre pressure with a reliable and accurate gauge. The tyre pressure should match the manufacturer’s recommended level — which you can find in your vehicle’s handbook. Or, on the plate inside the fuel filler cap.
We recommend checking the pressure when your tyres are cold. Make sure you use the correct pressure scale for the gauge (i.e. Bar, PSI, or KPA). And, check all tyres including the spare — as you never know when you’re going to need it.
If you’d rather have an expert check your tyres, we’re offer a free tyre and pressure check every day.
10. Why is checking my tyre pressures important?
Under or over-inflation can cause lasting damage to your tyre and rims. Check weekly for uneven wear (on both sides of the tyre), tears, cracks or bulges on the sidewall.
11. How do I check my brakes?
When checking your brakes, look, listen and feel. You should check your brakes when they are cold. First, check for wear by looking at your brake pads. If the brake pad has less than 3mm depth, they need replacing.
As for the discs, a thin layer of rust is common. But high-pitched screeching, grinding or growling noises are signs that your calliper and discs are rubbing together. If this is the case, you should get it checked out right away.
If your brakes are fading, becoming less responsive or if the pedal sinks, this could be a sign of a brake fluid leak. If your vehicle pulls to one side under braking, there may be a problem with your brake fluid. If you’re unsure, head to your local First Stop store and we’ll check them for free!
12. How to check my lights?
All it takes is a quick walk around your vehicle when it’s dark. Ask a friend or relative to help check your brake and reverse lights. And pay close attention to your number plate light as this is a legal requirement.
If you do need a bulb changing, follow the manufacturers’ handbook or ask one of our stores for help.
13. How do I check for fuel system & general leaks?
Simple. First, check the fuel cap is secure. Then, look under the car to detect any fluid leaks. If you detect a leak, you should consult an expert right away.
14. How do I check my windscreen and wipers?
Run your fingers along the wiper blades to make sure they are secure and NOT split. Check your wipers are flush with the windscreen, and that they leave your windscreen smear-free. Also keep an eye on your washer fluid — and bear in mind it can freeze in winter.
15. How do I check engine oil and other fluids?
Checking your engine oil is simple. First, pull out the dipstick and wipe it clean with a towel or rag. Then, reinsert it and pull it back out. There is a minimum and maximum indicator on the dipstick that shows how much oil is in your engine. The oil on the dipstick should be near maximum.
The other fluids aren’t as straightforward to check, so you should look in your vehicle’s handbook for more information. Alternatively, visit your local First Stop store.
16. How do I check my seatbelts?
So you’ll want to insert the buckle into the clip and make sure it locks. And then give the belt a sharp tug — it should stop suddenly if it’s working. It should be easy to unlock too. If it doesn’t lock, or the belt comes out, or it’s difficult to unlock, it’s probably faulty and you should get it checked out right away.