After a week of snow and ice on UK roads people are finally starting to take winter tyres seriously. A legal requirement in most of northern Europe winter tyres are very misunderstood in the UK. Here are 7 reasons you might want to consider swapping to winter tyres.
1) Winter tyres are NOT SNOW TYRES One of the most common reasons we hear as to why winter tyres aren't needed in the UK is because we don't get enough snow. Winter tyres are designed to be more effective than regular tyres in any temperature under 7c (44f) on any type of road. Cold weather tyres are designed with a larger percentage of natural rubber and silica in the compound which doesn't harden up as much as synthetic rubber in cold conditions.
2) Winter tyres really work Tirerack tested the Bridgestone Blizzak WS60 winter tyre against the Bridgestone RE050A ultra high performance summer tyre in icy conditions. From just 10mph the winter tyre stopped in 6.4 metres, while the summer tyre needed more than twice the distance to stop at over 14 metres. Imagine the difference from 30 mph.
3) Winter tyres could save you money Modern cars have big alloys and expensive wide low profile tyres. Once the small outlay of a set of steel rims has been made, winter tyres are often cheaper because of their smaller size. While you're driving on winter tyres, your not wearing out your expensive summer tyres, thus saving you money.
4) ABS doesn't stop your car any quicker Another false-truth we hear a lot is winter tyres aren't needed thanks to ABS. ABS was designed to allow steering control to be retained while in an emergency situation and will not stop you any quicker in low grip situations.
5) Winter tyres are as comfortable as summer tyres Yet another myth is a loss of ride comfort, or extra noise thanks to winter tyres. The truth is modern winter tyres are as every bit as comfortable as summer tyres, sometimes more so thanks to an increased profile.
6) Avoiding other people on the road The number of accidents caused by wet conditions increases in winter by 267%. Give yourself a chance of avoiding someone else's incident by fitting winter tyres.
7) Cars have changed It's no secret modern cars have gained a little weight, in fact a MK5 Golf is almost twice the weight of a MK1 Golf. With all that extra weight comes added inertia when trying to change directions or slow down, which gives the tyres much more work to do. To compound the problem many more cars are coming with overly wide sports tyres which have even less chance of slowing the big heavy car.
To see our full range of winter tyre reviews please visit our winter tyre section, or if you have any other reasons to make the change, or would simply like to share your experience of winter tyres please comment below.
They were exellent. The grip in both loose and packed snow was unbelievable, but they also turned out to be much much better than ordinary Michelin Pilot's in normal British rain and damp as well. Under braking they stopped Meters shorter and on corners they gripped very well and broke away progressively. In the dry (June...) they were fine in normal driving but did not have the absolute grip and turn in of a high performance summer tyre. They may have been a bit noisier, but not enough to be sure. However as soon as there was a shower of rain they were noticably better than "normal" tyres - and I do more driving in the wet than I do on empty dry tarmac. They did not seem to wear any faster than normal either - 20,000 miles, fronts still legal and rears only half down.I think that is pretty good...
2009 I put a pair on the front of my new Focus (2.0Tdi). exactly the same result. One superb incident when I left the handbrake on one morning as I drove off on packed snow. The fronts just gripped and we moved off with the (standard) rears locked. I didn't even notice until the back end started waving about as I slowed down for the first bend! Unbelievable. Highly recommended for all year round British driving.