Should I buy winter tyres?

It can be a good idea to have summer and winter tyres; in fact, it is a legal requirement to have two sets of tyres and wheels in some areas of Europe.


This is largely because average summer tyres get stiffer as the temperature falls, whereas winter versions are made of a kind of rubber that has a high content of silica and a special tread pattern designed to stay flexible even when the mercury drops below 7°C. This ensures better handling and braking on ice and snow and can be very helpful on wet surfaces during cold spells.
 
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Winter tyres are marked with a snowflake or a snow-topped mountain symbol and are specially made to perform in cold conditions. This means that snow/winter tyres are not best-suited to being used all year round, with tyres designed for summer use offering better performance on dry roads and in warmer temperatures. If you want winter tyres, you will also need summer versions.
 
You may need winter tyres in particular if you live in or have to travel around more remote areas where wintry conditions are likely to linger for longer. Before deciding whether to buy snow/winter tyres, you should think about the level of bad weather risk you face, your driving confidence, and the amount of driving you will need to do when there is ice and snow around.

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If you decide on summer and winter tyres, you don’t necessarily need two sets of wheels; instead, you can keep one set and just get a professional tyre fitter to change over your tyres in autumn and spring. You will need to have four of each tyre, however, as changing a single pair will disturb your car’s stability. You should also check whether you need to change the type of bolt or wheel nut you use depending on the tyres you choose.

Another option is to opt for all-season tyres, which are made of a similar rubber compound to that used for snow/winter tyres but use a tread pattern that is a compromise between winter tyres and summer versions. This means they should offer better performance on ice and snow than standard summer tyres and do not need to be changed between seasons.

One more possibility is to stick to summer tyres and carry snow chains if there is a risk that you will need to travel in bad weather conditions; however, there are factors to consider if you decide to go down this route. Remember that chains can only be used if there is a snow or ice layer that has been compacted to protect the road surface, and you will need to consider the practicalities of removing and fitting the chains. This can be tricky, especially when your wheel arches are full of snow and your hands are gloved and cold.
 
If you decide you need them, your local Protyre garage is the perfect place to have your snow/winter tyres fitted. Simply use our online search function to find the right options for your car.

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About the author

David Sholicar

David is the National Retail Operations Manager for Protyre. One of David’s areas of responsibility and ...

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