During winter, drivers must take necessary precautions for safe travel in challenging conditions. This often involves fitting winter tyres to address snow and ice, which can disrupt the road network even with minimal covering.
What Are Winter Tyres?
Winter tyres are specially designed to enhance grip and traction in cold weather, particularly in temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius. They are not limited to snowy and icy surfaces but also prove beneficial in wet and dry conditions.
Are Winter Tyres Worth Getting in the UK?
Although they are designed for better grip in colder conditions, winter tyres excel in clearing standing water, making them safer than summer tyres in rainy conditions. In the UK, these tyres are most effective from late November to early March.
How Do Winter Tyres Work?
Winter tyres differ from summer tyres in three key ways. Firstly, they feature a more effective tread pattern with numerous grooves (sipes) for efficient water displacement and improved traction on snow and ice. Secondly, the tyre compound contains more silica, ensuring flexibility in freezing temperatures, unlike the rigidity experienced by summer tyres. Lastly, the design of winter tyre rubber blocks facilitates the shaking off of accumulated snow, preventing clogging and maintaining effectiveness.
When is the Ideal Time to Switch to Winter Tyres?
It's recommended to install them when the ambient temperature consistently falls below 7 degrees Celsius. Conversely, once the temperature climbs above this threshold, it's advisable to revert to your summer tyres. Given the unpredictable nature of the UK winter, fluctuating between cold and frigid to dry and mild, it's advisable to have your winter tyres easily accessible and mounted on wheels. This way, you can seamlessly switch between them and your summer tyres as needed.
Can Winter Tyres be Used All Year Round?
While there is no legal restriction on using winter tyres in summer, it is not recommended. Warm weather accelerates the wear of winter tyres, impacting both safety and cost. Winter tyres provide less grip and traction in higher temperatures, making them less safe. It is advisable to switch back to summer tyres when temperatures rise above 7 degrees Celsius.
Legal Requirements for Winter Tyres
In the UK, it is not legally required to use winter tyres during the cold season. However, in some northern European countries like Germany, drivers are obligated by law to switch to winter tyres under wintry road conditions. Other countries, such as Finland and Sweden, mandate the use of winter tyres during colder months regardless of road conditions.
Cost of Winter Tyres
The cost of winter tyres varies based on brand and size. Generally comparable to summer tyres, the investment is considered essential for enhanced winter driving safety.