Studies show that drivers are six times more likely to have an accident during the winter months, with the numbers rising further when snow and ice add an extra hazard. During the big freeze at the start of 2010, more than 3 million motorists had an accident and 45 per cent had two or more near misses according to a survey by Continental Tyres.
Why use winter tyres?
Unlike summer tyres, winter tyres do not harden at low temperatures. This means they provide a much firmer grip on the road during cold and icy conditions, which reduces the chance of an accident. Winter tyres are as quiet and comfortable as summer tyres and thanks to new sophisticated compound technology, will last just as long.
What's the difference between a winter tyre and a summer tyre?
There is a slight trade-off with stopping distances as a winter tyre does not stop as quickly in the dry as a summer tyre. However, if it is not possible to switch tyres in the winter, experts say you are better off with winter tyres all year round. This is because the difference in stopping distances of summer tyres in winter is far greater than winter tyres in the summer.
The rubber compound of a winter tyre is very different to normal tyres as it is specifically formulated to work in temperatures below 7 degrees centigrade. With a normal tyre, if the temperature drops below 7 degrees the tyre loses its flexibility.
Winter tyres are made from a specially developed compound with more natural rubber so they don't harden when it's cold, which means increased grip on the road and greater safety. Winter tyres also have a lot more "sipes" that further increase the grip on cold, wet or icy roads.
On ice and snow, winter tyres provide a level of grip that no summer tyre can match. A vehicle fitted with winter tyres will come to 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 8 metres (43 metres). That is another two car lengths.
When should I fit winter tyres to my car?
We recommend that you switch to winter tyres in the UK between October and April. In many parts of Europe it is a legal requirement.
How much will it cost?
The price of winter tyres is generally about the same as standard tyres. So over a two or three year period when your car may use two or three sets of tyres, the overall tyre cost does not increase as you switch from summer to winter tyres.
How do I store my tyres?
When not in use, your tyres must be stored, preferably mounted on rims and inflated, and you should check their pressure regularly. If stored without rims they should be stacked on their side to a maximum height of four. Halfords Autocentres have ability to store tyres at select locations. Please ask your local autocentre if this is available in your area.
Why are winter tyres hard to find sometimes?
Due to heavy demands on winter tyres, there is limited stock. Please call your local autocentre and we will try our best to locate stock.