We’re halfway through winter now and any of you who purchased winter tyres will probably be thinking about how long you can get away with using them for. So, can you use winter tyres all year round?
The easiest way to answer this is to describe exactly what a winter tyre is and what it has been designed to do.
WHAT MAKES WINTER TYRES SPECIAL?
Well to put it quite simply, these tyres have been designed to work in cold, wet and even icy or snowy conditions. They do this with a different tread that works at creating better traction between your car and the road, but also by using a softer rubber compound that allows the tyre to conform to the road.
ISN’T HAVING BETTER GRIP GOOD FOR ALL SEASONS?
Yes and no.
Having a good grip on the road is ideal and tyres do provide that, however winter tyres have been designed to track the tarmac when it’s covered in ice, snow and water. This means that when it comes to warm, dry roads you’ll find that these tyres are very malleable and won’t provide you with the quick, responsiveness that you’d expect from summer tyres.
While winter tyres do provide you with drastically increased grip in cold conditions, they’re likely to let you down in the summer.
Performance aside, running a softer, winter compound during drier, warmer months will mean that these tyres get worn through very quickly. In fact, when driving like this you could wear these tyres out in as little as 5,000 miles depending on manufacturer and use. That means that you will need to replace these tyres more often, which can be very costly.
You’ll also find that winter tyres will provide significantly less-efficient fuel consumption, meaning that the price of your daily commute – when using winter tyres on warm, dry roads – could increase. Again, this means that it simply isn’t cost effective to continue to run these all year round.
There’s nothing that legally states that you can’t run winter tyres all year round. So, if you want to be running yours in July then go right ahead just don’t be surprised when they’re worn bald or they don’t provide you with the responsive handling you want.
WHEN TO SWAP OVER FROM WINTER TYRES
There’s really no set date on when you should swap over from your winter tyres, but the rule of thumb should be when the temperature starts to rise and you have more dry days than wet/ snowy days over a fortnight. Typically you should make the switch back to summer tyres in spring, once the worst of the weather conditions have passed.
DO I REALLY NEED WINTER TYRES?
In the UK, there is no law stating that you need winter tyres and considering the typical weather in the UK many areas will not need them. However, if you are in a rural area or if bad weather does decide to strike then winter tyres will be extremely beneficial.