Winter Checks – Is It Time To Change Your Tyres?
Updated on November, 24 2017
Most drivers are aware of the dangers that winter brings with it and recognise the fact that snow and ice can dramatically affect your safety on the road. However, it is not just extreme winter conditions that reduce your road safety; cold, damp roads can also significantly affect the performance of your tyres, reducing their traction and grip and leading to an increased risk of an accident occurring.
Winter tyres are specifically designed to combat the issues associated with colder, wetter conditions and are the perfect solution when driving on snow or ice. However, you do not need to be ploughing through 2ft of snow drift to reap the benefits of these tyres as they are also suitable for wet and cold roads – making them ideal for all the colder months!
However, are winter tyres really innovative, specially-designed products giving us the ultimate safety assurance for winter driving? Or are they simply a clever marketing strategy aimed at the cautious driver?
What is different about winter tyres?
When the temperature drops below 7°C, the tread compound in standard tyres begins to harden. As a result, the tyres lose some of their grip, making them less effective at braking and more susceptible to the dangers of wet and icy conditions. This puts the safety of your car and its inhabitants at a potential risk for almost half of the year – from October to March, thanks to the wonderfully cold British weather! – making winter tyres an even more attractive investment.
Winter tyres have been developed to specifically combat this issue and, as such, are produced from a different mixture of materials. Winter tyres use lots more natural rubber and also feature an advanced silica compound, both of which help the tyres to be less affected by cold temperatures, ensuring they maintain their flexibility and grip.
Furthermore, winter tyres are characterised by sophisticated multi-sipe tread patterns. This means the tread pattern has more grooves than a standard tyre, leading to more snow sticking to the tyre, helping it to attain better grip. It also means there are a higher number of sipes (the channels and slots within the tyre) which create biting edges that lock into the icy and snowy roads and help your vehicle brake and accelerate.
Do they really work?
Tests conducted by the British Tyre Manufacturers’ Association found that a car braking at 60mph on a wet road at 5°C stopped 5m sooner when fitted with winter tyres. The equivalent of more than one car’s length, this showed a significantly decreased braking distance and determined a positive effect for the winter tyres.
Similarly, when they conducted tests on icy roads they found that a car fitted with winter tyres travelling at 20mph stopped 11m shorter than a car with standard tyres and winter tyres on snowy roads at 30mph stopped 8m shorter.
The British Tyre Manufacturers’ Association concluded that winter tyres are extremely beneficial during the winter months and that their enhanced safety measures can really increase your car’s performance and protection during the winter – making them the safest option from October until March.
Checking your tyres
All drivers, irrespective of whether you fit winter tyres or not, should carry out regular checks to ensure your tyres are in the best possible condition for maximum safety. This includes checking your tyres’ tread depth – which should be well above the legal requirement of 1.6mm across the central ¾ of the tyre.
Additionally, your tyre pressure should be checked at least once a month, and always before a long journey, to make sure they conform with your manufacturer’s recommended pressure levels. You should also conduct a regular visual inspection, during which you should look for any cuts, cracks or bulges. Furthermore, you should remove any embedded objects and double check all your tyres have valve caps, replacing them with new ones if not.
Buying and fitting winter tyres
If you have decided to invest in a set of winter tyres, it is vital that you go to a specialist tyre supplier, such as Tyres Northampton. They have an impressive selection of winter tyres available, all of which are specifically created for various vehicles, including cars, motorbikes and 4x4s. They will also be able to advise you on the most suitable winter tyres for your vehicle and its uses and can fit your new tyres to the most superior standard for your complete peace of mind.
Winter tyres installed by the experts at Tyres Northampton guarantee to offer maximum protection throughout the colder months and are the ideal solution for safeguarding your car, and your loved ones, from the dangers of winter. Simply get in touch today for more information!