A lot of people ask the question around winter tyres, and it’s a good one. The answer is yes – but only if you need them!
Winter tyres are designed to be used in cold weather conditions where snow or ice can form on roads. They have tread patterns that allow for better traction when driving over these surfaces.
The main benefit of using winter tyres is improved grip during icy road conditions. However, they do come with some drawbacks as well:
- Increased tyre wear due to increased friction between the wheel and the ground
- Reduced fuel efficiency because of added weight
- More expensive than summer tyres
However, for the average Joe living in milder climates (most parts of the UK), winter tyres may not be a necessary purchase. If your car has all-season tyres fitted at the factory then there should be no reason why you would want to buy new ones.
If you live somewhere like Scotland or Ireland though, where winters tend to get very chilly, then buying winter tyres could make sense.
So what makes up an ideal set of winter tyres?
There are three types of winter tyres available; studded, semi-studded and full-blown winter tyres. Studded tyres were originally developed by Michelin back in the 1930s. These tyres had metal spikes embedded into their tread pattern which allowed drivers to drive more safely through deep snow.
Today, most cars sold in Europe still use this type of tyre. In fact, many manufacturers offer ‘winter package’ options on certain models. This means that the manufacturer will fit a pair of studded tyres onto the vehicle.
Semi-Studded tyres were first introduced in the 1980s. Unlike traditional studded tyres, semi-studded don’t feature any metal spikes. Instead, they have grooves cut out of the rubber compound itself. As such, they provide less grip than standard tyres. But they also cost much less money.
Full blown winter tyres are similar to normal tyres except that they have larger blocks of rubber compounds built into the tread area. This allows them to cope with deeper snow and ice without causing damage to the surface underneath.
When choosing winter tyres, remember that the best option depends entirely upon how often you plan to use them. For example, if you rarely venture outside after dark, then a cheaper alternative might suffice. On the other hand, if you regularly go off-road, then you’ll probably find yourself needing something stronger.
Off Road Winter Tyres
For those who enjoy going off-roading, there are two different kinds of winter tyres available. Off-Road tyres are specifically made for vehicles that spend time doing things like sanding down rocks, climbing steep hillsides and traversing muddy terrain.
These tyres usually have wider rims and bigger knobs so that they can handle rougher terrains. Some even include mud flaps to protect against getting stuck in wet areas.
On the flip side, All Terrain tyres are designed to give you maximum control while navigating rough terrain. They typically have smaller wheels and narrower tires. So they won’t work too well on smooth surfaces.
How to Maintain Winter Tyres
Winter tyres need regular maintenance just as any other kind of tyre does. However, it is important to note that these tyres do require special care when compared to ordinary tyres. Here are some tips:
1) Always check the pressure before driving. The recommended minimum inflation level is between 30 psi and 50 psi. You can easily check the pressure using a gauge from your local garage.
2) Check the condition of the tyres every month. Make sure that the tread depth remains above 1/32 inch. Also, look for cracks or holes in the sidewalls. Any signs of wear mean that you need to replace the tyres immediately.
3) Keep the tyres clean! Dirt gets trapped inside the tread patterns and causes premature wearing.
What is the Best Brand for Winter Tyres?
There are several brands of winter tyres available today. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. It all comes down to personal preference. If you want to know more about which brand suits you better, here are our top picks:
- Michelin – These tyres are known for their high performance levels. They come at an affordable price point. And they perform very well in snowy conditions.
- Bridgestone – Another popular choice among drivers looking for good value for money. Their tyres are durable and reliable. Plus, they last longer than others.
- Hankook – A great option for people who live in cold climates where winters get really harsh. Hankooks are specially engineered to withstand extreme temperatures.