Winter Driving – Goodyear Puts Tyres to the Test

Kwik Fit | Monday 11th January 2016 3:45pm

Ford on a wet test track

It comes as no surprise that the number of road accidents increases by over 6,000 during an average winter in the UK. Many of these accidents, however, could be avoided if it weren’t for poorly maintained vehicles or, more specifically, poor quality tyres.

To increase awareness of just how big a difference choosing the right tyres can make during the colder months of the year, Goodyear has teamed up with Auto Express to put tyres through their paces in a set of specially constructed winter driving scenarios at the 760-acre Horiba-MIRA vehicle testing facility in Nuneaton. 

The tyre tests looked at a number of factors including, but not limited to, incorrect tyre pressures, low tread depths and fitting budget tyres which all had a serious detrimental effect on vehicle performance particularly in wet and wintery conditions. The results should encourage drivers to double check the condition of their tyres and, if necessary, invest in a good quality replacement.

The Tyre Tests

In order to replicate the conditions of wintry British roads as closely as possible, Goodyear used MIRA’s one-mile wet handling track and brake testing facilities, both of which are lined with water sprinklers to give a constant wet surface. Auto Express then took two identical Ford Focus 1.5 TDCis with a tyre size of 205/55 R16 and tested several sets of tyres in a number of situations using braking distances, lap times and, more subjectively, the experience of the driver behind the wheel, to draw its conclusions.

Premium Summer Tyres vs Budget Summer Tyres

Most drivers in the UK will keep their summer tyres on all year round. That’s all well and good, particularly during mild winters but drivers who opt for budget summer tyres may find vehicle handling and performance wanting when the weather turns. The first test compared premium Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance tyres with budget Rockstone F109’s on the wet handling track. As summer tyres, neither set claimed to have specialist winter or all-season tyre properties yet the premium variety proved more stable and predictable when cornering and braking and recorded a far better lap time.

Premium Winter Tyres vs Budget Winter Tyres

For test two, events move across to the basalt tiles on MIRA’s braking circuit where a set of Goodyear Ultragrip Performance Gen-1 premium tyres goes head-to-head with the budget Wanli Snowgrip. This specially designed track surface replicates the slippery surface of a snowy road and even though both sets of tyres are designed for winter conditions, the premium set outperformed their budget counterparts by some margin.

Properly Inflated Tyres vs Under-inflated Tyres

While switching to winter tyres when the cold snap arrives will generally give the best winter driving performance, for those who decide to stick with their summer varieties during the winter months there are some simple checks you can carry out to ensure your tyres provide the best grip. The simplest of which is to make sure your tyres are correctly inflated. 

In the third test, Goodyear took a set of its EfficientGrip Perfomance summer tyres around the MIRA track for a series of laps before reducing the pressure in each tyre to just 18 PSI. Upon venturing out a second time, the results were very different with the under inflated tyres recording a lap time almost 8 seconds slower.

New Tyres vs Part Worn Tyres

Pitting two identical sets of Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance tyres against one another on the wet braking track, one set almost brand new with 6mm of tyre tread left the other nearing the legal limit with just 1.6mm-2mm of tread remaining, Goodyear’s fourth and final test highlighted the performance consequences of low tread tyres.

The Ford Focus with new tyres came to a stop a whole 10.4 metres shorter on average that the part worn set which roughly translates to two whole car lengths. Perhaps more alarmingly, the test driver from Auto Express reported that the brakes felt instantly numb on the worn set and only after 10-15 metres did the tyres find grip as they struggled to disperse surface water from the tread area. 

The verdict?

In each scenario, Goodyear and Auto Express found that premium tyres, plentiful tread and correct tyre pressure made a huge difference to winter driving.  For maximum results, a winter or all-season tyre will provide even more reassurance on winter roads. The Goodyear Ultragrip Performance Gen-1 was recently voted as the Auto Express Best Buy in the 2015 winter tyre test while the Goodyear Vector 4Seasons came Recommended in the same tests .

For any questions you might have about driving on winter tyres, get in touch with the team of experts at your local Kwik Fit. 

Tags : Tyres

Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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