When do I change over my summer tyres to winter tyres?

By Julia Freeman

As the British winter closes in, it is time to start preparing your car to deal with the harsh winter months and challenging weather they will inevitably bring. One of the most important maintenance tasks that you should do is to check your tyres are suitable for winter driving. Years of experience tell us that if you do this too early or too late, you could find yourself driving on unsuitable tyres. So, when is the best time to change over to winter tyres?

Tyre Tracks In Snow

Making the switch to winter tyres

We need to start by examining the differences between summer and winter tyres. The main difference is that the rubber compounds used in the manufacture of winter tyres are designed to work best in temperatures that are under 7°C. They don't perform as well in higher temperatures as the rubber becomes too hot to work effectively. This leads to increased wear and you will end up having to replace the Pirelli or Falken winter car tyres more often.
 
The best time to buy winter tyres is when the temperature falls consistently to below 7°C. This means that there are several days in a row when the temperature is below this value. Typically, this occurs from the end of October onwards but is very variable from year to year. It also varies in different parts of the country, so checking the local temperature is important.

What to look out for when changing to winter tyres

Sadly, it is not as simple as just fitting your old winter tyres from last year back on your vehicle. They need to be thoroughly checked by qualified fitters. The most important thing to consider is the tread depth. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6 mm but for the winter it should be a lot more than that. Many experts would recommend at least 4 mm for the winter months. This depth will give you the best safety in terms of grip and will increase your braking efficiency and reduce the risk of aquaplaning.
 
Along with checking tread depth, it is also important to check that the treads and sidewalls are in excellent condition. There should be no cracks, splits or bulges as this indicates an area of weakness that could fail. Tyres that have been stored in a garage can deteriorate even though they are not on a car.
 
Balancing tyres is another important factor to consider. Balanced tyres help to protect a car's suspension system to ensure that they wear evenly, rather than on one side. The final check, once the tyres are fitted, is the tyre pressure. Tyres will lose pressure over time and this needs to be checked regularly and adjusted to make sure that they are safe.

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About the author

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By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Retail Marketing for Protyre and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to make sure Protyre is more than just a local garage.
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