The big difference between seasonal tyres is that a winter tyre is made of a different composition (compound) than a summer or all season tyre. This compound stays softer in much cooler temperatures.
Winter tyres are mandatory in the winter in Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia. This list is always subject to change so always check first before traveling abroad.
Can you mix summer and winter tyres?
There is no law in the UK that says you can’t, but given that winter tyres and summer tyres will generate enormously varied levels of grip, it isn’t safe to do so.
Can you fit winter tyres to steel wheels?
Yes. In fact, many drivers buy a set of steel wheels, which are cheaper than alloy wheels and leave their winter tyres mounted on them year-round.
Can you use winter tyres on a rear-wheel-drive car?
Yes, you can. In fact, they will give an even greater advantage than they would on a front- or four-wheel-drive car. That’s because rear-wheel-drive cars are by their nature more compromised in low-grip conditions than other cars.
What are studded winter tyres?
Studded tyres are different from winter tyres and are designed for thick snow and ice. They might have little studs pressed into the tread, or longer spikes that poke right out of them. Studded tyres are almost certainly not required in the UK, even in the depths of winter.
How long do winter tyres last?
As long as you only use winter tyres during the winter, you can expect to get the same number of miles out of a set as you would from any other tyre. However, winter tyres will wear out very quickly if you use them in warmer weather.
When should I switch to winter tyres?
You should fit your winter tyres as soon as the ambient temperature drops consistently below 7deg Celsius. Similarly, you should remove them again once the temperature rises above that. Given that the UK winter is unpredictable, ranging from anywhere between cold and frigid to dry and mild. It’s wise to keep your winter tyres readily to hand and mounted on wheels, so that you can switch between them and your summer tyres when necessary.
Do I really need winter tyres on a front-wheel-drive car?
Yes, because although the improvements aren’t as great as they are on rear-wheel-drive cars, they are still very significant indeed, especially in braking and cornering performance.
Do winter tyres make any difference in the rain?
Yes, a huge difference. In fact, they will improve the braking, traction and overall grip of your car at any temperature below 7deg Celsius – even in the dry. In the wet, meanwhile, the difference is like chalk and cheese.
What’s wrong with carrying a set of snow chains instead?
Snow chains are only of any use in the snow. Winter tyres, meanwhile, are effective in all weather conditions, so long as the ambient temperature is below 7deg Celsius.
Are there any drawbacks in fitting winter tyres?
There are some drawbacks to winter tyres, although they certainly don’t outweigh the many advantages. Apart from the added expense, winter tyres can cause your speedometer to over-read and therefore also upset your fuel range indicator. In dry conditions, winter tyres can offer fractionally less steering precision than summer tyres.