There’s been a steady entrance to winter so far, but as news reports so often suggest, extreme weather events seem all too common these days.
While the changing seasons force a shift from shorts and t-shirts to scarves and woollies, is there an equivalent for our cars? Do our 4-wheeled friends also need a change of attire to face up to the unpredictability of our climate?
On the Continent, especially places with guaranteed snow and ice every year, most drivers are used to switching to winter tyres as a precursor to the chilly months. It’s one reason why many roads in the Alps seem to remain open most of the year. Drivers still flinging themselves around mountainous hairpin bends as they make their merry way to the ski-slopes.
Back home, things tend to be different. The slightest dusting of snow sees roads grind to a halt. So if you want to avoid your car sliding like Bambi on ice, here’s a brief look at the options for inclement weather:
Most tyres are primarily designed for summer, meaning that by the time you get to winter, your tread may not be at a safe level. Whether this is due to gradual wear or bad weather conditions, your tyre’s tread needs to be able to clear water from the road surface to maintain traction whatever the conditions. The lower the tread, the lower the grip may be, especially if below the legal limit of 1.6mm.
Driving with air pressures below the recommended settings can also significantly affect a tyre’s ability to grip. An underinflated tyre loses its shape, resulting in a lower amount of contact with the ground.
If you choose to stick to standard tyres, at the very least, make sure you have enough tread and they’re at the correct pressure.
Check-out our article on how to check your tyre tread and pressure here.
In recent years Winter tyres have gathered popularity, as motorists guard themselves against prolonged cold snaps. Designed for low temperatures, the rubber in winter tyres stays supple and, combined with an increased number of grooves in the tread, they provide a high level of traction and grip.
While they’re the best choice for icy roads, the only downside is that the pliable rubber designed for gripping slushy or icy roads, wears down quickly in warm weather. Compared to standard tyres, they lack the performance and dynamic response, often coming with a warning not to be driven over certain speed limits.
All-season tyres tyres are an increasingly popular alternative, as they provide near winter tyre performance but can also be driven all year-round. While they don’t provide the optimum seasonal performance of summer or winter specialist tyres, they can make a good all-year round compromise.
Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman, said: “Tyres are put to their ultimate test during winter and more than ever we depend on them to stay safe while driving … No matter which type of tyre your vehicle is equipped with, during winter it’s essential you check they are all in good condition and you adjust your driving to the conditions.”
Check out our deals on winter, all-season and summer tyres here.
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