While there can be dangerous road conditions year-round, winter months bring their own set of hazards including rain, snow, wet leaves and black ice.
For this reason, many people opt to swap out their ‘normal’ tyres with winter tyres. But, with harsh winters being unusual in some parts of the UK, some drivers are left scratching their heads, wondering if they should also make the switch.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of winter tyres so that you can make the best possible decision this winter.
What are winter tyres?
There are two main differences between winter tyres and normal tyres.
First, winter tyres are designed to have better traction and grip in cold conditions. In terms of their appearance, this means that winter tyres will have a more distinct tread pattern, with wider grooves and more narrow slits at the edges of the tread area. If you’re struggling to identify a winter tyre, look for a snowflake or mountain symbol by the sidewall.
Second, winter tyres are made with a different kind of rubber than standard tyres. Why? Because the material on standard tyres stiffens as temperatures drop, reducing grip when it’s below seven degrees. The material used for winter tyres stays soft, enabling a strong grip despite freezing temperatures.
The pros of winter tyres
The most noteable (and obvious) pro of having winter tyres is that they outperform standard tyres when temperatures drop and road conditions worsen. You’ll notice a difference, especially when braking or turning, thanks to the improved grip and traction.
Stopping distances can be reduced by upwards of 5 metres with winter tyres which supports safer driving for you and everyone else on the road. With that being said, by fitting winter tyres, you’re helping prevent accidents and are upholding your duty of care as a motorist.
If you live in a part of the country that experiences harsh winters, winter tyres won’t just prevent accidents, they’ll enable you to get where you’re going. Imagine being stuck – unable to get to work or take your children to school – because your tyres couldn’t perform.
The cons of winter tyres
While the benefits in terms of safety and mobility are undeniable, there are a few drawbacks of winter tyres.
The most frequently cited con is, of course, the cost. On average, they’re slightly more expensive than standard tyres, but this is dependent on your car and wheel size. It’s also worth mentioning here that this cost could be offset by the fact that winter tyres increase the lifespan of your standard tyres, as they’ll be taken off the road from December-March.
If you don’t mind the cost or see the value in winter tyres, the next obstacle to overcome is storage. Without a garage or garden shed, you’ll likely have to pay for storage 12 months a year, alternating tyres depending on the weather.
Finally, winter tyres are – as the name suggests – season specific. If you were to keep the tyres on year-round, the rubber will wear down quickly and performance will drop off, making them no better than standard tyres when you need them most.
Should I buy winter tyres?
It really is a personal choice. For those living in rural or remote areas or those in areas with especially harsh winters, winter tyres are a must. For everyone else, there are alternatives like snow socks and snow chains that might meet your needs at a lower cost.
In any case, make sure you stay safe this winter! Check out our top winter car maintenance tips .
Even after taking all these tips into consideration however, you never know when you might unexpectedly break down, and that’s the last thing you want on a cold winters day! See how Warranty Direct can help you by getting a today!
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