What is a winter tyre?
The main difference between winter tyres and regular tyres is the tread depth. On a winter tyre it starts at between 8 and 9mm, as opposed to 7 and 8mm on a regular tyre. The grooves within the tyre are wider and deeper as well, forming a larger channel for snow and water to travel through, which maintains grip on the road.
More importantly, the rubber used to make winter tyres contains a larger percentage of natural rubber and silica in the compound. This doesn't harden as much as synthetic rubber in cold weather, which also improves the tyre’s grip.
What are the benefits of winter tyres?
As well as enhancing road grip, which is obviously a boost for road safety in wet and icy conditions, winter tyres have an affect on stopping distances. Tyre manufacturer Continental says that a vehicle fitted with winter tyres will come to a standstill on a snow-covered road (from a speed of just 30mph) after 35 metres. With normal tyres the braking distance required is a further eight metres (43 metres). That's another two car lengths.
Are winter tyres worth it in the UK?
Winter tyres are effective in temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius, which we generally see during UK winters. Cold weather tyres provide much better grip in both wet and dry conditions when the temperature falls below seven degrees, so they offer extra safety typically from October to March.
Save wear on summer tyres?
Like most tyres the cost varies depending on the car, and the quality of tyre, However it is worth noting that winter tyres can save money.
They are usually cheaper to buy than summer tyres and because you are using these, you could save wear on expensive summer tyres, making them last longer.
Are there any drawbacks of winter tyres?
As you may expect, winter tyres aren't as effective as summer tyres in temperatures above 7 degrees Celcius. For example, grip can become impaired and braking distances lengthened when compared with their warm weather counterparts.
Winter tyres can also become worn more easily if used during warmer months. However, such issues can be overcome by changing tyres when the weather starts to heat up again.