Winter is cold and sometimes when we're lucky the snow will fall, mind not since 2010/2011 have we had a good full on winter. Here at tyremen.co.uk we feel we are due an Arctic style blast of snow, sad I know but we love it.
Right let’s get right to the point, have you ever thought about buying winter tyres but not sure of the benefits? Please let me put your mind at ease.
The biggest misconception many people believe is that winter tyres are only needed for snow full stop. This is not true and this misconception is exacerbated by the many over the top TV advertising campaigns such as the Continental TS850, always driving on snow like it is driving on rails. Yes, the winter tyre technology is focused on the tyre been able to offer outstanding grip on snow. However, there is something more going on. Summer tyres at temperature below 7°C will start to go hard, this is a fact and in return you get a tyre with a lot less grip. The winter tyres are made with a lot more natural rubber and silicon content enabling them to remain flexible at temperature well below 7°C, along with lot of more sipes in the tread and shoulders (these are the straight and wavy lines all over the tyre), giving the tyre a lot more bite on ice and snow.
The most significant benefit of winter tyres during the winter months is the considerably lower stopping distances compared with summer tyres. At 60mph on a wet road and temperatures below 7°C a winter tyre will take 65.7 meters to come to a total stop compaired to a summer tyre that will take another 4.8 meters at 70.5 meters. You may think that 4.8 meters isn't a lot but measure out 4.8 meters on the floor and you will realise how big it really is. This could be the difference between parking your car in somebody else’s boot or worse. The biggest surprise is the stopping ability (or lack of it) on an icy road at just 20mph. Winter tyres will take 57 meters and Summer tyres will take an extra 11 meters! Yes 68 meters this is massive and very scary.
To sum up why winter tyres are a good choice.
- Braking distances dramatically improve.
- Outstanding in snow and slush.
- Outstanding on icy roads.
- Outstanding in wet conditions below 7°C.
My personal opinion:
In October 2010 when the UK was covered in a blanket of snow and it stayed around, I had never used winter tyres at all but knew all the benefits because I was selling them! After being stuck down my road and embarrassingly calling upon the neighbour to dig me out, I decided to try them. The next morning we woke up to another big dollop of snow, thinking I’ll be getting the spade out, but instead we just easily pulled out of the parking space that I had been stuck in the day before! Honestly the difference was pretty amazing. I left the tyres on through the winter and decided to try them throughout the full year. The results were outstanding, the handling and grip in the wet, dry and on the hot days was brilliant. The car I used them on was a Honda Civic 2.2 Type s.
I am now a total convert and I have used these all year round on all my cars since. And would strongly recommend it.
Do’s and don’ts when using winter tyres:
- Never fit only two on the drive wheels as you run the risk of losing control of your car. The reason been you have tyres designed to do very different things.
- I would not recommend buying economy winter tyres as the majority are just imitations.
- When looking for winter tyres, true winter tyres have the snowflake and mountain symbol this symbol means the tyres have been put through the strictest winter tyre tests and are proven winter tyres. In addition, is a legal requirement when driving across certain parts of Europe please see our European winter tyre laws, How to dress for the continent.
- Tyres marked with just M&S, dealers will say these are for mud and snow, in most cases this is just a normal tyre with M&S on the sidewall and will not be legal in Europe where needed.
So really, the thick and thin of it is Winter tyres, Cold weather tyres or Snow tyres, what ever the manfactures would like to call them this year, are all the same thing and keep us safer in the winter months.