During the winter, driving conditions become challenging and making sure you are safe on Britain’s roads is important.
Winter tyres, or cold weather tyres as they are also commonly known, can play an important role in ensuring you stay safe on the roads during the more severe winter months.
What are winter tyres?
Winter tyres look very similar to summer tyres but are specially developed to provide additional driving performance in winter conditions. It is a common misconception that winter tyres are only for driving in the snow. Winter tyres are designed to work best in conditions below +7°C, so even in wet and icy conditions, you’ll benefit from their superior grip and handling.
Winter tyres at Kwik Fit
Kwik Fit stocks a wide range of winter tyres from premium brands including Pirelli, Michelin and Goodyear.
The benefits of winter tyres
Here are some of the advantages of switching to winter tyres:
- Shorter stopping distances - In comparison to summer tyres, winter tyres reduce braking distance significantly in snow and ice.
- Added safety and improved performance - Due to the specially developed compound which contains more natural rubber and increased groove ratio, a winter tyre can maintain excellent grip in snow, ice and wet conditions so you are less likely to lose control.
- Reduced risk of aquaplaning - Aquaplaning or hydroplaning is when your vehicle loses traction with the road in wet conditions and occurs when the water between your tyres and the road cannot be removed quickly enough. The specific tread pattern design of winter tyres can disperse a greater amount of water, effectively reducing the risk of aquaplaning.
How do winter tyres work?
The tread compound of a winter tyre contains more natural rubber so that it does not harden when it’s cold. This ensures that the tyre stays flexible in low winter temperatures (below +7°C) which helps to reduce the stopping distance and maintain excellent grip on snow and ice as well as on wet roads in cold conditions.
The design of the tread on a winter tyre allows the tread to bite into the snow and ice to give interlocking grip, which is critical in the centre of the tread where the tyre carries the highest load. In addition, a winter tyre has an increased groove ratio and up to 10 times the number of sipes than a normal summer tyre.
Winter tyres and European law
If you are planning to take your car abroad this winter, it is important to note that throughout many parts of Europe it is common and sometimes a legal requirement for drivers to fit winter tyres during the winter months.
Snow and cold weather conditions are much more commonplace in central Europe during the winter months so it is important to check local restrictions before you travel.
Countries that have laws regarding the use of winter tyres include Germany, Austria, Finland and Sweden. In other countries including France, Italy, Switzerland and Poland, winter tyres are not compulsory but are strongly recommended by authorities.
Why fit winter tyres
Although the UK does not suffer from extreme winters like many parts of Europe, it does, on average, have many days that are cold with a surprising number of them with ice and snow. Previous winters have resulted in chaos on the UK roads with many people struggling to get out of their road or driveway. In the UK there is currently no legal requirement to use winter tyres but with drivers being six times more likely to have an accident from October to March*, there is a strong argument for fitting winter tyres to your vehicle.
*source - www.driving.org
Winter tyres vs summer tyres
The tread compound and tread pattern of a winter tyre makes it quite different from its summer counterpart. Road tests show that a vehicle travelling at 20mph on an icy road would stop 11 metres shorter if fitted with winter tyres. But winter tyres are not just for ice and snow, you’ll benefit from their added traction on wet roads too. Travelling at 62mph In wet conditions below +7°C, your braking distance will be up to 4.8 metres shorter when comparing winter tyres to regular summer tyres.
(Source: Continental testing their Winter tyres vs their Summer tyres).
Winter tyres vs summer tyres stopping distance on ice – 20mph
Winter tyres vs summer tyres stopping distance on wet surface – 62mph
Winter tyres put to the test
See for yourself the difference winter tyres can make to your driving performance during the winter months.
When should you fit winter tyres?
In the UK, we recommend that you change to winter tyres during the months of October to March when the average temperature is regularly below +7°C.
As with summer tyres, winter tyres should be checked regularly to ensure they are in good condition as worn tyres will be ineffective on all surfaces, wet, dry or wintery.