What are Winter tyres, and are they worth having?
What are they?
Winter tyres are becoming more common, and are not designed as “snow tyres”.
They are made of a different material to normal tyres. “Normal” tyres are not designed to work at temperatures lower than 7 degrees C. Winter tyres are designed to remain flexible at lower temperatures, and therefore retaining grip at these temperatures.
Their tread pattern is also different to normal tyres, in that they have many groves within each block of rubber. These seem to do a number of things: it keeps the rubber flexible, and therefore “grippy”.
It also produces many more edges on the tyre that can dig into the snow, ice, or mud, and so, produce a greater surface area in contact with the snow. This in turn will produce more grip.
In wet conditions, all the grooves allow water to be dispersed more quickly from under the tyre. This will allow you to have more contact with the ground, and so, brake more efficiently.
All-season tyres are also becoming more common, and can be used in a greater range of conditions without being worn out too fast.
Kwikfit claim that at 20 mph, winter tyres can stop 11 metres faster than on normal tyres in icy roads, at 57 metres, rather than 68 metres.
Please remember that according to the Highway Code, in normal dry conditions you should be able to stop in 12 metres, so, even though winter tyres would be able to stop much quicker than normal tyres in bad conditions, it still takes about 5 times longer than normal to
Here is a quote from the Kwikfit website:
“British cars normally drive on 'summer' tyres but below temperatures of 7 degrees C - the
winter tyre gives significant safety advantages in wet and icy conditions - up to a bus length and a half shorter stopping distance! Their superior grip helps you keep control. Not surprisingly, winter tyres are also better in snowing conditions -braking up to 8 metres shorter than summer tyres from 30mph (35m versus 43m in length)
Continental testing their winter tyres versus their summer tyres (which are still No.1 at braking in the summer!)”
I have included a quote that I found on the Continental tyres website whilst looking for information about how winter tyres are designed, and why.
“Continental’s latest tyre features a high number of block edges and sipes, helping to increase traction and braking performance on snow and ice. At the same time, more edges are available to transfer lateral forces when negotiating bends or changing lanes at high speed. This ensures perfect handling and outstanding grip even in extreme driving
Are they worth having?
Some people are concerned about having to buy a second set of tyres, and storing the tyres they are not using.
Whilst you are using the winter tyres, you are not using the normal tyres, so you are not wearing out their tread, which you would be doing if you were using them all year. A tyre fitting company would easily be able to swop your tyres from normal to winter tyres, or back
A set of winter tyres should last you for, maybe, three winters. They are not something you need to buy each winter.
If you have more grip, you are less likely to damage a tyre or its wheel, and therefore less likely to have to buy a replacement (never mind the inconvenience of spending time changing a tyre in bad weather).
If you have more grip, you are less likely to lose control of the car, and damage it, or other property. If you are less likely to damage something, there is less likelihood of making an insurance claim, and therefore your insurance company might give you a discount on your
Above all, it is safer to drive at low temperatures, using tyres
that are designed for those conditions. Can you afford not to use winter tyres?