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Summer tyres versus winter tyres - 6 reasons to switch to winter tyres this season

Kwik Fit | Thursday 30th October 2014 8:00am

Michelin Alpin 5 in snow

Just how good are winter tyres? As the colder months approach you might be asking this very question and are currently contemplating swapping your summer tyres over for a set of winter tyres. Winter tyres have very different properties to their summer counterparts that could make a real difference in wet and icy conditions not to mention snow. Here are our top 6 reasons (and an infographic) as to why winter tyres are better than summer tyres during the colder months.

1) Shorter stopping distances

One of the biggest benefits of winter tyres is improved braking. The braking distance of your car when using winter tyres will be significantly reduced in snow and ice in comparison to standard summer tyres. In fact in snowy conditions your braking distance can be as little as half that of a car using summer tyres when travelling at over 30mph.

2) Better performance in all winter conditions

Winter tyres arenít just for when it snows, this is a common misconception. Winter tyres are designed to be most effective at temperatures below 7 degrees celcius. So even in wet and icy conditions, winter tyres will display superior stability and braking performance over their summer counterparts. At 20mph your car will stop 11 metres shorter on an icy road if fitted with winter tyres. Even on wet roads your braking distance will improve by 10% when the temperature dips below 7 degrees.

3) Better control

Winter tyres contain more natural rubber which doesnít harden in cold conditions like summer tyres which helps you to grip the road. Furthermore the tread of a winter tyre contains hundreds of tiny sipes allowing the tyre to bite in to snow and ice to give interlocking grip. This altered tyre compound and tread design helps winter tyres maintain excellent traction in icy and wet conditions so you are less likely to lose control when cornering.

4) Reduced risk of aquaplaning

Aquaplaning (sometimes referred to as hydroplaning) is when you lose traction in wet conditions because the water between your tyres and the road cannot be moved quickly enough. During the winter months there is typically more standing water on our roads. Winter tyres can disperse a greater amount of water due to their distinct tread pattern which greatly reduces the risk of aquaplaning.

5) High performance even on rear wheel drive vehicles

Owners of RWD cars will know all too well that even the most high performance car can become a fishtailing nightmare when it snows. The main reasons why front wheel drive cars do not suffer in the same way is because of the added weight of the engine pushing down on the front axle. Added weight on the drive wheels means added grip. In addition, rear wheel drive vehicles effectively push the car forward rather than pull it. This pushing motion is far less controlled on slippery surfaces and can result in the vehicle skidding to one side. Winter tyres can make a huge difference and at a recent Pirelli winter driving experience we easily managed to drive a BMW 3 Series 320d up the incline of an indoor ski slope once it was fitted with Pirelliís Sottozero 3 winter tyres.

6) Legal requirement in some EU countries

Ok, this isnít so much an advantage of winter tyres over summer tyres but it is worth pointing out that the benefits of winter tyres highlighted above are such that in some European countries such as Germany and Austria it is actually a legal requirement to fit winter tyres during certain months of the year. So if youíre planning on taking your car abroad this holiday season, check whether or not you need to fit winter tyres first.

So, winter tyres win hands down, but this isnít to say summer tyres are no good; quite the opposite in fact. During the warmer months of the year the results are reversed and summer tyres perform much better. Thatís why itís important that you replace your winter and summer tyres at the appropriate time of the year (we recommend fitting your winter tyres in October and switching back to summer tyres at the end of February Ė but it all depends on the average temperature at that time of year). If you donít have adequate space at home to store your summer tyres during the winter months, why not use our Tyre Hotel? Weíll store your tyres for you until you are ready to swap back the following season. Weíll then arrange for you summer tyres to be refitted at a time to suit you. Speak to your local Kwik Fit manager for more details.

At Kwik Fit we stock a huge range winter tyres for all major makes and models including cars, light commercial vehicles, 4x4s and SUVs from leading manufacturers including Goodyear, Michelin, Pirelli and Continental. Find winter tyres for my car.

Infographic courtesy of Michelin.

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