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A guide to winter tyresBack

It’s starting to get cold and when the cold and icy conditions kick in, many motorists could be better off with winter tyres. But not every driver is best suited to this type of tyre. Take a look below to find out if winter tyres are the best option for you.

What are winter tyres?

Winter tyres are designed to maximise grip on the roads in the colder, icy weather to help prevent accidents. They are designed to help motorists make sure they stop safely on ice-covered roads and don’t lose control in the snow. Winter tyres have a higher silica content in the tread which prevents it hardening at lower temperatures, and therefore gives better grip in cold wet conditions. Unlike summer tyres, they have spidery treads called ‘sipes’ cut into the tyre’s surface to help the tyre cut into the snow and ice better. The treads also flex slightly as you drive, which warms up the tyre surface and maximises grip on the road.

When is best to put on winter tyres?

Most manufacturers in the UK will recommend winter tyres are put onto your vehicle when the temperature drops below a sustained seven degrees centigrade, so around November/December is a good time to start thinking about purchasing them if you don’t own any already. Winter tyres also have the added benefit of being more resistant to wear and tear than summer tyres, so if you’re only using them on your car in the winter months, they should last longer, and will also help to preserve the life of your summer tyres.

Does my car need winter tyres?

If your car has front-wheel drive, you’ll have more grip in slippery conditions. This is because the engine’s power is in the front wheels which has the weight of the engine pushing the tyres into the road. If your car has rear-wheel drive, for example you drive a BMW or a sports car, you won’t have the advantage of the engine weight which means you could struggle climbing steep hills in icy weather. Most rear-wheel drive car owners should therefore consider switching to winter tyres.

Are winter tyres expensive?

Winter tyres don’t cost any more than summer tyres, for example, a small family car such as a VW Golf, may cost in excess of £200 to kit out with winter tyres, depending on the tyre manufacturer and professional fitting costs. Don’t forget to store your summer tyres somewhere safe for winter – if you’re stuck for space, some tyre shops might hold them for you for a minimal fee.

Can I use winter tyres in summer?

It’s not advised to use winter tyres in the summer months, mainly because they don’t offer as much grip in warmer, dry weather. The softer rubber in winter tyres will also mean they wear quicker than conventional tyres in hotter weather, so it’s best to switch back to summer tyres in the spring.

Should I buy winter tyres?

If you live somewhere that’s particularly prone to cold weather in winter or you live in the countryside where the roads are harder to drive in wintery conditions, a good set of winter tyres could make all the difference between getting stuck and getting home safely. If you live in an urban area on a road that’s regularly gritted, then dedicated winter tyres are perhaps not essential and an extra expense you could do without.

Posted by Leana Kell on 21/09/2018