7 Reasons to Consider Winter Tyres

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.

Further Winter Tyre Reading

- 2011 Winter tyre buying guide
- All winter tyre tests

This Article is part of tyrereviews total tyre guide


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2008 I bought winter tyres to drive out to the Alps for a skiing holiday on my 2.2 diesel Mondeo, as I was told they were a legal requirement in the area we were going to. Ended up leaving them on all Summer and sold them with the car.
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.
Posted at 2010-02-04 12:34:04 | Was this comment helpful? Please login to vote
Here in Northern Europe(Estonia) winter tyres(studded or regular - your choice) are also compulsory and I'm glad for that, they've saved my life and car several times. Other thing to mention regarding winter tyres is that you definitely need to change your driving style to a lot LESS agressive and smoother, since these are generally softer tyres and "float" a lot more. And of course the laws of physics apply here too - you can't go as fast as you did on summer, there's just not enough grip for it, no matter how good tyres you use. But to use summer tyres in winter, well that's just pure suicide or if things go badly - then add multiple murders to suicide. Would like to add and bust one more myth - 4 wheel drive, having it does not relieve you from fitting winter tyres. Some people over here seem to have strange understanding that 4WD is good enough for all weathers and situations. Well, it isn't, I drive front wheel drive car and 3 days ago I pulled 4WD car out of a snowbank. The guy who drives it thought that 4WD will go through anything in any weather. Nonsense and proved it to him.
Rant off:-)
Posted at 2010-01-06 08:29:16 | Was this comment helpful? Please login to vote
In December 2008, I drove from the UK across Europe to Poland and Slovakia. I had a set of Winter tyres (Avon Ice Touring ST's)fitted before I left as I had heard that most of Northern/Eastern Europe is required to have them fitted between October and March (or thereabout) and I'm glad I did. From Eastern Germany onwards for two weeks, snow, ice and slush covered every road and yet in all that time, not once did they loose traction, slip or fail to bring the car to a stop without sliding or skidding. I was quite amazed how effective they were, even on snow covered motorways at 80+ mph! But as has been pointed out already, they are far superior in all conditions from 7C and below. I drove with them in the wet and dry when I got back home too and they gripped just as well as my previous Summer tyres, perhaps even more so in the wet. Ride comfort wasn't affected either and on some surfaces was actually better.
Needless to say, I have a set of Winter tyres fitted to my new car now and it's actually scary to see how people are driving around in their Summer tyres which is why I'm not so surprised when I see cars sliding, spinning and crashing into one another(quite a few around town). I'm completely in agreement with the previous post that they perhaps should be a legal requirement during the Winter months or at the very least their benefits widely publicised by some sort of advertising campaign. Perhaps an incentive from insurers to have them fitted may help? Surely such costs of getting us all better equipped for Winter driving far outweighs the millions of pounds and dozens of lives lost each year to Britain's Wintry roads?
Posted at 2010-01-05 19:12:54 | Was this comment helpful? Please login to vote
There is no doubt Winter tyres are safer in the snow. But I want to see how they compare in the Rain against Summer tyres or All season tyres - and then also how they compare in the summer with them. Are they significantly worse stopping or cornering on a hot sunny day? UK only has occasional snow but lots of rain - so what would be the best single type of tyre?
Posted at 2010-01-03 15:50:23 | Was this comment helpful? Please login to vote
Great review on a subject that seriously needs addressing by the UK motoring authorities. I am A Brit who has recently moved to Germany (2 months ago). I initially received differing stories (from other Brits) on what the law was regarding the winter tyre situation in Germany. I have a new Mazda 3 sport which was fitted with Toyo Proxes R32 'Summer Tyres'. Having attempted to drive on snowy icy roads I now know why it is a legal requirement in Germany to have winter tyres if you are going to drive during periods of snow and ice. I understand that the Toyos are summer tyres however I was still suprised at how little grip they provided on snow and ice. They provided virtually no grip. For the safety of other road users and myself I did not make the journey I planned to and have since had winter tyres fitted. There are numerous videos on the internet illustrating the difference between summer, all season and winter tyres on snow and ice. The results are shocking and it is frightening to think that there will be thousands of people driving in winter conditions with 'Summer Tyres'. As your article correctly states winter tyres are not only for use in snow and ice, they provide far better grip in all conditions when temperatures are below 7 degrees. Recent news footage of British drivers unable to get any traction whatsoever are comical but also worrying. Making the use of winter tyres compulsary at a set time of year would prevent accidents, arguably save lives and prevent or at least lessen the usual gridlock in winter conditions. Afterall, there is very little difference between the weather in the UK and several of the other European countries where winter tyres are a legal requirement.
Posted at 2009-12-26 18:54:03 | Was this comment helpful? Please login to vote