WINTER TYRES - ARE THEY WORTH YOUR MONEY?

Wednesday, 6th May 2020

Are Winter Tyres Worth It?

If you’re thinking about investing in winter tyres, one of the key concerns you will have will be whether they are worth the cost. And beyond that, how much difference winter tyres make for the cost that you’ll pay.

So, Why Invest in Winter Tyres?

The popular belief of motorists in the UK is that winter tyres are solely useful when driving on snow. And some may believe that winter tyres aren’t worth in in the UK due to our relatively mild winters.

The truth is that below a mild 7°C, winter tyres are there to support you safely through the harsh winter conditions guaranteeing extra grip while driving. This is because winter tyres have tread patterns that work together with the rubber compound to keep you safe on the road. The rubber compound remains flexible in low temperatures, compared with summer tyres which stiffen up in cold conditions.

Winter tyres therefore ensure you have the best possible grip in cold weather. Going further, winter tyres can deal with increased rainfall, standing water, snow and ice on the roads a lot more than regular summer tyres. Winter tyres have narrow grooves which prevent the snow from building up and clogging tread channels. The tread patterns are designed to disperse more water than normal tyres while the soft rubber compound guarantees more grip on the road. This will help reduce the risk of aquaplaning or sliding in the snow.

When it comes to braking, in harsh conditions winter tyres are extremely effective. At 18mph a car with conventional tyres will take an extra 11 metres to stop, which is the length of a double decker bus.

You can read more about the benefits of winter tyres in our article: why use winter tyres when driving in the UK.

And What about the Cost of Winter Tyres?

The increased safety of driving with winter tyres when temperatures reach below 7°C would indicate that the cost would be a small price to pay. However, when you take a closer look at the cost over time, winter tyres aren’t such a big outlay that you might imagine.

If you drive regularly, your summer tyres will wear out a lot quicker in winter. This means that you’ll be in the market for new tyres a lot sooner than you otherwise would be if you switched to winter tyres in the colder months.

Worse than that, when a summer tyre loses its elasticity in the cold temperatures, the rubber may crack. If the damage is severe enough, you’ll need a new set of tyres there and then.

A set of good quality tyres for both winter and summer will provide better safety and performance for longer than two sets of poorer quality summer tyres.

The All Season Compromise

If you don’t want to have a set of summer and winter tyres, you could opt for a set of all season tyres. All season tyres are designed to be able to cope with mild wintry conditions as well as offering excellent performance in the warmer months of the year. Where you will need to be particularly careful in winter when driving all season tyres will be when the weather turns more extreme, for example during a heavy snowstorm, especially in more rural areas where the build-up of snow or rain water might be more severe.

More Winter Driving Tips

Whether or not you decide to go for winter tyres, there is some advice that you can follow to ensure that you stay safe on the roads in cold conditions:

  • Reduce speed and avoid harsh braking and acceleration on wet surfaces
  • When at low speeds, use second gear (as opposed to first) to avoid spinning
  • To slow your car, change down a gear and use engine braking. If you do need to apply the brakes, do so gently
  • When starting off or going up-hill, use a higher gear to avoid spinning

If you have a set of winter tyres, we advise that you visit your local fitter to get them properly fitted and balanced on your car to ensure you have safe journeys throughout winter.

Your Guide to Seasonal Tyres

Season Summer (Above 7 degrees Celsius) All Season (All year round) Winter (Below 7 degrees Celsius)
Driving performance Designed for excellent performance during the warmer months (above 7 degrees Celsius). High tread elasticity and flexibility ensures a smooth ride. Consistent tyre performance in all weather conditions and all year round. All season tyres combine the driving characteristics of both summer and winter tyres for good all year round performance. Designed to provide optimum grip in cold, wet or snowy conditions at temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius.
On the road Excellent dry and wet traction in the warmer months of the year. Precise handling for optimal performance, even when it rains. Short braking distances in dry and wet conditions. Good performance throughout the year. Unique compounds work to maintain rubber elasticity in cold weather, providing better grip and control in adverse conditions. Delivering excellent grip and short braking distances on wet roads, slush, snow and ice (uphill & downhill). Excellent braking, accelerating and cornering performance below 7 degrees Celsius.
The technology Stiffer compounds and less aggressive tread patterns result in lowered friction and improved fuel efficiency throughout warmer months of the year. Specially designed tread patterns that consist of multiple sipes to provide extra aquaplaning resistance and to keep you safe in heavy downpours. Flexible compound ensures optimum grip and traction at low temperatures and extra sipes provide efficient water dispersal to avoid aquaplaning.
Making a Choice Excellent performance in summer, whatever the weather. Below 7 degrees Celsius, summer tyre compounds begin to stiffen and this may impact traction. Increased wear in colder conditions can result in crack & chips along the sidewall and tread blocks, so you should ideally switch to winter tyres once the temperature drops below 7 degrees. Designed to be able to cope with mild wintry conditions as well as offering excellent performance in the warmer months of the year. Be careful when the weather turns more extreme, especially in more rural areas where the build-up of snow or rain water might be more severe. Designed for winter conditions when the temperature drops below 7 degrees Celsius. Winter tyres will lack grip and traction in summer. Winter tyres will also wear out more quickly in the warmer weather, so always change your tyres back to summer tyres once the weather improves.

More from HiQ blog

PREMIUM VS BUDGET - WINTER TYRES

Goodyear put two sets of tyres to the test on a track aimed to mimic the effect of stopping on ice. One car was fitted with premium Goodyear winter tyres...

UK DRIVERS - SHOULD WE BUY WINTER TYRES?