What’s the deal with winter tyres? Is there much of a difference and why invest in a set of winter tyres?

We all know that the UK long range and even short range weather forecasts can be unpredictable and that cold weather can creep up on us without warning!  Some winters being very harsh with below freezing temperatures and others mild without a spec of snow!

Winter weather can and often does catch us unawares with ice, snow and anything in between. The main thing to be aware of is that winter weather can bring with it treacherous and hazardous driving conditions with an increased likelihood of road accidents.

Also, when the weather turns wintery, it can leave some people stranded if they live in isolated areas and road conditions elsewhere can be unpredictable.

Winter tyres are designed for safety and better performance in a mix of winter weather conditions which is why it may be worth thinking about being prepared with a set of winter tyres and changing over to winter tyres before the start of the season.

Let’s look at the main differences:

Winter tyres:

  • Winter tyres are designed to have better performance in colder temperatures below 7°C. as have been shown to have better breaking distances, greater performance when turning corners and are less prone to skidding.
  • They made of a softer, more natural and flexible rubber which does not harden or get as brittle as summer tyres in the colder winter weather.
  • They have different grooves (and grooves in the side called sipes) which are especially designed to give a better grip in colder winter months.
  • A common belief is that winter tyres are only for severe winter weather seen in other countries and are not needed in the UK. However, winter tyres should be thought of as more like cold weather tyres as they are designed to be better performing in any type of weather when the temperature drops below 7°C.
  • They should be changed back over to summer tyres during warmer, milder months, as the softer rubber compound can wear out faster than summer tyres.

Summer tyres:

  • Summer tyres are designed to perform best in milder temperatures above 7°C.
  • Summer tyres are fitted as standard to most cars
  • They are made from a harder compound which softens in milder temperatures and the tread pattern is designed to have a better grip during warmer temperatures on wet and dry roads.
  • They tread pattern is also designed to have better stopping distances in milder / warmer weather and helps to stop aquaplaning.
  • Summer tyres are designed to withstand the hot summer temperatures without getting too soft and have even been shown to have better breaking distances than winter or all season tyres in temperatures above 15°C.
  • Summer tyres should be changed back over to winter tyres in the colder winter months as they can harden and get brittle if the temperature drops below 7°C.

Wait… does that mean you have to have two sets of tyres?

It is recommended that you have tyres suited to the season. Expense may be something important to you when deciding if you should buy another set of tyres, however the advantage of having two sets of tyres is that they will last twice as long! So the initial outlay may be more but you will get more life out of your tyres as a result.

If you are considering winter tyres, you should prepare yourself and have them ready to fit before the winter weather arrives as you don’t want to get caught out trying to change them over in the ice or snow.

Can I just buy two winter tyres?

No, you will need to fit your car with all four winter tyres.

What about all season tyres?

All season tyres are a compromise for all year round driving instead of buying a set of summer and winter tyres. However, they do not perform as well as summer tyres in the summer or winter tyres in the winter.

Tips for driving in snow and ice

  • Consider buying winter tyres. If that is not an option, make sure your tyres are inflated correctly and have a minimum of 3mm tread.
  • You will need enough speed so that you do not lose the momentum but take care not to drive too fast and lose control.
  • Allow more stopping distance as ice and snow can greatly increase the time it takes to stop.
  • Use your gears and do not rely on your brakes or ABS to stop as breaking on ice can cause you to skid.
  • Use busier, gritted roads and try to avoid lesser used and country lanes. Try and follow tyre tracks and avoid slush and ice.
  • Keep your speed low on hills, avoid building up too much speed.

If you need further information on Summer or Winter tyres, please give us a call on 0800 009 6867 and one of our friendly fitters will be happy to help.

Recent Customer Reviews