Winter tyres – are they a waste of money or an essential every car owner should consider using?

It’s a million dollar question and one bound to stir up a debate among drivers. But if you’re still on the fence, you may find this guide rather useful.

Here’s everything you need to know about winter tyres and whether they’re right for you.

What are winter tyres?

The major difference between winter tyres and regular ones is the tread depth, with the former starting at between 8 and 9mm and the latter measured at 7 and 8mm.

You’ll also notice that the grooves within a winter tyre are wider and deeper as well, which allows snow and water to pass through more easily.

The final (and more technical) difference is in the rubber. The compound in winter tyres consists of more natural rubber and silica, which doesn’t harden as much in cold weather like the synthetic rubber used in normal tyres.

All of these attributes help to improve grip and performance during cold icy and snowy conditions.

Are winter tyres worth the hassle?

In truth, this one is down to you. While the difference in the tread and finer detail of the rubber may a tad alien to most regular drivers, they do offer some important benefits like better grip and an improvement on stopping distances.

To put this into context, Continental reckon that winter tyres will come to a standstill on a snowy road after 35 metres when travelling at 30mph. Whereas a car with normal tyres in the same conditions will take 43 metres to do the same.

This is especially important when research conducted by Insure the Box believe that drivers are 20% more likely to be in a crash during the colder winter months.

However, changing tyres in both summer and winter will naturally cost more money as years go on. And then there’s the small (or big) matter of storing the ones you aren’t using when they are out of season.

You could also argue that the UK doesn’t get many snowy days – which is when winter tyres really come into their own.

What’s more, if you forget to change the winter tyres over in the summer, you could lose a lot of grip and increase braking distances as the rubber isn’t designed for temperatures above 7 degrees.

In essence, your decision probably boils down to your location. For instance, if you live in a busy city, the roads to your work will usually be quite clear and well gritted even in the most severe conditions. Whereas in more rural areas, you may not get the same luxury.

Other alternatives

If you don’t fancy going to the garage to change your tyres every six months, snow chains and socks make wonderful alternatives.

One of the biggest plus points, beside their top performance, is the fact you can keep using them year in year out – providing you look after them.

You can just apply them yourself when the weather starts to get colder and take them off when (eventually) the sun comes out again!

To find the right snow chain or socks for your car, use our handy tool here.

What are your thoughts on winter tyres or snow chains/socks? Let us know in the comments below.

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