UK behind the winter tyre times

27th September 2012

As the cold weather starts to demand your attention more frequently, one word is almost guaranteed to soon be grabbing headlines and causing a furore across the UK – snow.

Despite the chaos the first flakes of white stuff inevitably triggers, we never seem to learn from the failures of previous winters, particularly when it comes to our motors. Snow-ins, traffic jams, mechanical faults and accidents are all too often a common experience in winter – yet solutions are available for savvy drivers.

According to a recent feature on TotallyMotor.co.uk, Britain has much to learn from the colder parts of Europe when it comes to winter tyres.

'We're seriously behind the tyre-times here in the UK,' wrote Daniel Anslow, editor of TotallyMotor.co.uk.

'In many parts of Europe – the top bits and the further west you go – winter tyres are entirely the norm.'

To back up these claims, Mr Anslow took a trip to the frosty climes of Latvia to put the latest Michelin winter tyre designs through their paces in some no-nonsense snow and ice conditions.

He road-tested the new Michelin Pilot Alpin, designed for sports cars,  and Latitude Alpin, for SUVs, as well as the Michelin Alpine A4, tailored to all varieties of family cars, hatchbacks, saloons and city cars.

Paired up with a 500bhp AMG Mercedes and a 350bhp Porsche 911 Carrera S, the driver found the compounds gave a surprising amount of controllable grip. The Pilot Alpin tyres sport a more aggressive tread pattern which can even master snowy ground, responding to rear-wheel-drive and braking in a pleasing fashion.

Similarly, Mr Anslow found a Range Rover Evoque could handle deep, icy ruts and snowy hills with admirable control when kitted out with Michelin's latest Latitude Alpin rubber.

Cold weather tyres are designed to work best in temperatures beneath seven degrees Celsius, at which point the tread compound on standard tyres starts to lose grip. With winter tyres, this compound heats up at lower rolling temperatures in order to create better grip in tough climates.

In fact, statistics suggest a car can stop up to 11 metres sooner with this specialist rubber compared to standard tyres.

A larger number of sipes and wider grooves on the surface also work together to offer more traction and better braking and acceleration for motorists taking on slow, slush and similar icy conditions.

According to an Auto Express survey from 2010, nearly half (48 per cent) of winter car accidents are a result of skidding, making a good set of winter tyres a potentially life-saving addition to your motor.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) clarified at the end of 2010 that charging higher premiums for drivers who fit winter tyres is incorrect practice, following reports that this was taking place among some providers.

Nonetheless, drivers are advised to let their insurance company know once they've fitted winter tyres to know exactly where they stand.

Want to purchase reliable Michelin tyres today? ATS Euromaster could be the perfect fit. 

Posted by Danielle Barge