There is a huge lack of awareness in the UK about winter tyres. Either motorists are not aware they exist or they think that the tyre can only be used during times of heavy snow or ice.
In fact, drivers will benefit from using winter tyres on slush, ice, frost and even wet roads. In fact any time the temperature dips below +7 degrees centigrade, you’re better off on winter tyres.
Unlike summer tyres (everyday standard tyres in the UK), winter tyres do not harden at lower temperatures. That means they give you a much better grip on the road and the ability to stop in a shorter distance, increasing your safety on the road.
The rubber compound of a winter tyre is very different to a summer tyre. It is designed specifically to work in temperatures under +7 degrees centigrade.
What happens to a summer tyre when the temperature drops is that the tyre compound loses its flexibility, making it less grippy in low temperatures.
Winter tyres are made from specially developed compound with more natural rubber so they don’t harden when it’s cold, which means increased grip on the road and greater safety.
On ice and snow winter tyres provide grip that no summer tyre can match. A vehicle fitted with winter tyres will come to standstill on a snow-covered road (from a speed of just 30mph) after 35 metres – with normal tyres the braking distance required is a further 8 metres (43 metres). That is another two car lengths.
It is recommended that you switch to winter tyres in the UK between October and April.
If you are reluctant to change tyres and have nowhere to store summer tyres when they are not in use, you are better off using winter tyres all year round.
Winter tyres are as quiet and comfortable as summer tyres and, thanks to sophisticated compound technology, do not wear any more quickly.
There is a slight trade off with stopping distances as a winter tyre does not stop as quickly in the dry as a summer tyre, however, on balance if it is not possible to switch tyres in the winter, experts say you are better off with winter tyres all year round. This is because the difference in stopping distances of summer tyres in winter is far greater than for winter tyres in the summer.