Depending on where you are in the world, having the right tyres on your car and with good tread is a legal requirement, with some countries requiring you to switch between tyres for the summer and winter. If you live in mainland Europe for example, you are required by law to have two sets of tyres – one for each season.
What makes winter tyres different?
Winter tyres have been designed for more extreme weather conditions than tyres that can be used at other times of the year. They’re also better equipped to deal with torrential rain, snow, severe wind and even ice. In certain situations, the right winter tyres could mean the difference between life and death which is why it’s so important to pay attention to the state and type of yours.
Winter tyres have a high silica content in their rubber compounds which gives them more of a ‘groove’ to grip onto the road when snow, ice and sleet could make it dangerous and slippery. The pattern or tread of the tyres are different on winter ones too – flexibility in lower temperatures is important and the tread style allows for just this, giving you much more effective breaking and improved traction too. This works well for cold and icy conditions but also for those rainy days too when surface water makes roads a potential slip n’ slide.
Why are winter tyres important?
If you don’t change your tyres for the colder season, your car won’t be as easy to handle when conditions get wet, cold, snowy or icy. Summer tyres don’t have the tread-depth that winter ones offer so they won’t be able to grasp onto the road. This in turn will have a serious effective on your breaking, causing the car to slide further before coming to a complete standstill. If a car suddenly slams on the brakes in front of you, winter tyres will have better reactions than summer ones on winter road conditions that are more extreme and can be icy and slippery.
A few things to remember…
If you want to get the most out of your tyres (we all know how expensive they can be), when you take the summer tyres off your car, make a note of which ones came from where. When you put them back on, switch the front and back to balance out the wear and tear.
When fixing your winter tyres to your car, it’s ideal to have all four tyres switched. If you choose just to have winter tyres on the front, the back end could slip and cause you to spin out. Just having back winter tyres could cause an under-steer. It might be expensive to replace all four but it is very wise for your own safety and that of your passengers too.
If you ever have any doubt about whether or not you need summer or winter tyres, or if you ever have any tyre-related questions, always get in touch with your car mechanic.