How good are winter tyres?

How good are winter tyres? 27th August 2014

If you find that it is time to change your tyres while the weather is getting colder, you may notice more and more that there are winter tyres – otherwise known as cold weather tyres – on the market.

While these are supposed to be better to use in colder conditions, they also come with a fairly large price tag. You may find yourself asking what it is that encourages people to buy these rather than just to risk it with summer tyres?

However, there are benefits to opting for winter tyres and it is worth getting to know how good they really are.

These tyres are designed to perform the best, have great traction and short stopping distances when the temperatures drop below 7 degrees C. This adds together to ensure that driving is much safer during winter, where the mean temperature in the UK during winter is 4.5 degrees C.

Statistics from the Department for Transport show that accidents increase by 267 per cent in winter and often these are caused by cars skidding on ice or through aquaplaning. Such accidents can often be avoided if they use winter tyres instead.

In fact, in a number of countries in Europe it is a legal requirement for cars to have cold weather tyres if they are to be used on the roads during winter.

Even in countries where it is not a legal requirement to have winter tyres, some see a lot of drivers opting to use them regardless. An example of this is in the Netherlands, where 50 per cent of the population use cold weather tyres during winter.

The reason why winter tyres are better in winter than summer tyres is because they are made up of higher amounts of rubber and silica, which makes them more flexible and able to maintain grip at lower temperatures.

They also have a different tread pattern, which contains deeper grooves in order to keep more of the tyre in contact with the road. There are also smaller sipes in the tread pattern so that grip is improved when the roads are icy.

According to TyreSafe, it takes roughly 68 metres for a car with summer tyres on to stop when braking after driving at 19 mph. When cold weather tyres are used in place of these, this stopping distance is reduced to 57 metres.

It also tested two Mercedes C-class vehicles with Michelin tyres on an ice rink to compare stopping distances. There was a 40 per cent difference in braking distance between the two, with the one that used winter tyres stopping at 7.01 metres while the other travelled for 9.75 metres.

What's more, British Tyre Manufacturers' Association found that a car that brakes after travelling at 60 mph on a wet road at five degrees will stop five metres shorter if it uses winter tyres.

However, remember that not all winter tyres are made the same. At ATS Euromaster there are a variety of winter tyres from a range of tyres so you should be able to find the right ones to suit you.

Posted by Danielle Barge