Tyres: Tips & Recommendations

Thinking of Fitting Winter Tyres? This Is What You Need to Know

November cold fronts are bearing down on us thick and fast, with altogether cooler air temperatures and slippery surfaces, as well as icy conditions set to come. But what should you know about cold weather driving conditions and fitting winter tyres?

Summer Tyres v Winter Tyres

The essential difference between these different sets of tyres is to do with the material that is used to make them, with the winter tyres – otherwise known as colder weather tyres – utilising a rubber compound that remains soft in colder conditions. Not only this, but cold weather tyres also make use of a more complex tread structure, which further helps to ensure their stability and improved grip in winter temperatures, whether the conditions are wet, dry or icy.

What you may have noticed with summer tyres, on the other hand, is that once temperatures start to dip, they lose some of their normal grip. This is because their rubber compounds harden once you get to 7 degrees centigrade or lower, preventing them from sticking to the surface as they do during other times of the year. Summer tyres don’t have the fine grooves of their winter counterparts, and if you think back to some of the extreme winter conditions of last winter, you’ll know how crucial that cold weather tread design can be to your control and confidence as a driver.

Can I Use the Same Tyres All Year?

It’s certainly true that the UK doesn’t normally experience the kinds of extreme temperatures and conditions as many other countries. Furthermore, where we do have extreme summer heat or extreme winter cold, those kinds of conditions are usually temporary and relatively short-lived. This is unlike, say, central Europe, where sub-zero temperatures can be the norm for months at a time. That said, is it safe in the UK to drive with summer tyres in the winter, or with cold weather tyres in the summer?

First of all, it is important to recognise that there is a noticeable difference between summer and winter tyres once you go below or above that 7-degree threshold. Also, if you try to use winter tyres throughout the year, you’ll see them wear considerably faster than summer tyres in the heat – cold weather tyres’ softer compounds mean they’ll need replacing if consistently used in warm temperatures. Meanwhile, using summer tyres in the cold will result in longer braking distances and more skidding.

What about All-Season Tyres?

The all-season tyre is definitely a decent option for less extreme temperatures. They’ll save you from having to switch tyres over the course of a year, they will offer better grip than summer tyres in the winter, and they’ll be more durable than winter tyres in the summer. With that said, it remains true that best performance in extreme conditions is achieved with more specialised tyres.

Want to know more about changing your tyres for the winter? Call us now on 020 8361 8888