The winter, summer tyre debate is one that many people have year after year and cost is one of the main reasons they give for not making the switch. The truth is though, it doesn’t have to be expensive, car leasing and other forms of vehicle finance now offer maintenance packages too. These packages will include servicing, breakdown and tyre replacement and will be bundled up into a cheap monthly payment and added to your finance repayment – it’s simple and you’d be bonkers not too.
So, is there any point replacing perfectly good summer tyres with winter ones? Well, we’re about to give you six good reasons why you should most definitely opt for a winter tyre during the colder months.
A common misconception regarding winter tyres is that they’re only useful when it snows. As we said, this is a misconception and therefore not the case at all. Winter tyres are actually most effective at temperatures below 7⁰C, so even without snow there’ll be a noticeable difference in braking and stability when compared to summer tyres.
2. Stopping distances
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of winter tyres is improved braking distances. In temperatures under 7⁰C, braking distances on wet roads are improved by 10% and on icy roads, your car will stop 11 metres shorter when fitted with winter tyres. In snow and ice, braking distances can be reduced to half that of a vehicle still using summer tyres. See the image below with the distances benchmark.
Winter tyres are more effective at gripping the road’s surface because they contain more natural rubber which doesn’t harden in cold conditions.
Winter tyres also feature siping (the small zigzigs on the surface of the tyre) and this essentially acts as a ‘claw’ in the snow to improve traction.
4. Legal requirement
If you travel a lot then it’s certainly worth noting that during certain months of the year it’s a legal requirement to have winter tyres fitted to your vehicle in some European countries like Germany and Austria.
5. Rear wheel drive performance
Anyone that owns a rear-wheel-drive will understand the dread of looking out on a snowy morning knowing they need to head out in their car. RWD cars suffer severely in the snow, and that’s putting it mildly. The reason why rear-wheel-drives have it so bad is that they don’t benefit from the same added weight to the drive wheels as a FWD. Added weight in this area essentially means added grip and a FWD has that benefit thanks to the weight of the engine.
Cars driven by their rear wheels are pushed forward rather than pulled; this pushing motion is much harder to control, especially in bad weather, and often results in vehicles skidding to one side.
Winter tyres can make a massive difference to not only the control, but also the performance of rear wheel drive vehicles.
When traction is lost in wet conditions it’s referred to as aquaplaning, because the water between the road surface and the road doesn’t move quickly enough. During the winter months, surface water is much more common on the roads making them even more dangerous than usual. Thanks to the unique tread pattern of winter tyres, a greater amount of water is dispersed, consequently reducing the risk of aquaplaning dramatically.
Despite winter tyres winning hands down at the moment, this isn’t to say summer tyres are completely redundant, in fact, the results are reversed during warmer months and summer tyres perform much better.
You can read more on Tyre Blog.