So, the nights are getting longer, and the cold weather is on the way. Snow and ice are just around the corner, making all those car journeys just that little bit more dangerous.
It is at times like this that the safety of your family becomes even more paramount. You may be wondering how you can make winter driving a safer thing to do. Well, for the safety-conscious among you, when it comes to driving, especially in cold and wet conditions, one of the first things you can change is your tyres.
Purchasing winter tyres can make the car so much more sturdy on the road in those wet and wintry conditions.
What are winter tyres?
Winter tyres are not snow tyres. Snow tyres are generally studded. However, winter tyres are designed to grip the road much better than summer tyres. Winter tyres have much better traction than ordinary types.
They are, therefore, less likely to allow the car drift and slide off the road on those cold winter night. The material they are made of is a softer rubber compound. They include more natural rubbers into the mixture, including those with a high silica content, because silica allows the tyre to remain softer in colder temperatures.
Summer tyres, by contrast, become less elastic in colder conditions and harden up, making them less effective.
Winter tyres have deeper grooves on the tread of the tyre, as well as lots of narrow cuts, or slits called sipes. These slits and grooves are designed for ultimate winter grip. On the sidewall of the tyre, there is generally an image of a snowflake. This is how you can identify it as a winter tyre.
Benefits of winter tyres
- They are safer in icy conditions. This is a benefit for not just you and your family, but for all road users, including pedestrians. Therefore they offer a societal benefit too.
- They are for all bad weather conditions, not just snow. They improve performance on wet, icy, and snowy roads. The grooves and slits in the tyre open up to allow more grip. The narrower sipes in the tread of the tyre offer grip even when the deeper grooves become packed with snow.
- You have improved stopping distance. When you slam on the brakes in snowy conditions, and you have winter tyres, first off you are much less likely to slip, and the stopping distance over standard tyres at 30mph is reduced by eight meters. That is two and but car lengths.
- They can save you money. Due to the fact that they are safer and stop sooner, they will save you money as you are less likely to have that accident.
- A car fitted with winter tyres is safer than a 4×4 with summer tyres.
- They work great when the temperatures dip below +7° C.
Who should get winter tyres?
- Anyone who lives in an area where the weather is known to be wet and snowy for a relatively prolonged period of time.
- Nervous drivers who are not very good at driving in wet and wintry conditions.
- People who live in remote regions of the country.
- Anyone who has to do a lot of driving in bad wintry conditions.
Is it cost-effective?
The answer to this question really depends on the area you live and how likely it is that you will encounter an accident in wintry conditions. But there are several things you need to think about when considering purchasing winter tyres.
- The cost of the tyres. This varies depending on the size, model, brand, etc.
- You may think you can get just two winter tyres and leave the other two as summer tyre. You cannot do this. Having only two winter tyres compromises steering and stopping ability. The car will simply not be in synch.
- Storage for the tyres. Winter tyres are not supposed to be used in all seasons. Therefore you will need to remove them when the weather warms ups, and out the summer tyres back on your vehicle. However, having said that, your summer tyres will last longer due to the fact that they are being kept safe and sound for three or so months.
- You may want to think about purchasing all-weather tyres, they do not have as much grip as winter tyres in cold conditions, but they offer far more grip than summer tyres.Also, you can obviously keep them on all year, if you want to.
What about the wheels?
If you want to keep the same wheel and just swap the tyres, a tyre fitter can do this for you. Alternatively, you can buy winter tyres that are pre-fitted to wheels. You could get a set of alloys that match the set you already have, but a cheaper alternative. There is also the option for steel wheels which is cheaper still.