November 10, 2016 at 12:03 AM
With some forecasters warning that the winter of 2016 could be the worst winter in five years, it’s important to take some safety precautions for your car. One of the most important things to do is to replace all-weather tyres with snow tyres.
Many people think the all-weather tyres are fine for winter if they are not showing signs of wear. However, freezing temperatures and being engulfed in snow or ice can damage all-weather tyres and compromise their structure. This means they can become unsafe and potentially lead to being stranded in the snow due to a flat tyre.
The rubber of all-weather tyres is different than the rubber used for snow tyres. The snow tyre rubber contains more natural rubber and silica which makes them stay pliable in lower temperatures. All-weather tyres tend to harden in colder temperatures which decreases the tyre’s traction.
Winter tyres have tread that differs from all-weather tyres. The winter tyre tread is designed to clear water from the road to prevent aquaplaning. This is another reason why all-weather tyres are not suitable for winter weather. Wet weather is more likely to result in a car collision, so the best tyres are truly important for safety.
Before the arctic freeze brings the coldest and snowiest winter within the past five years, prepare your car by getting good snow tyres. Manufacturers often recommend switching your all-weather tyres to snow tyres in October. The snow tyres are to remain on the car until March.
Winter tyre buyers tend to wait until it snows to buy their winter tyres. Car experts suggest buying the winter tyres before the first snow, because car tyre retailers have a limited supply. When the first snow arrives and people rush to get their snow tyres, the drivers may be faced with less of a selection of tyres than if they went annually in October.
What if you don’t want to have to change your tyres twice a year? There are some new tyres on the market that are true all-season tyres. They are all-weather tyres that are also certified as snow tyres. The Michelin CrossClimate tyre is an example of an all-weather tyre that is a good winter tyre as well. However, it’s important to note that though the CrossClimate tyre is made to function as an all-weather tyre that is suitable for winter, this tyres performance in snowy conditions is not as good as a true winter tyre.
Some car insurance companies like to be informed when the driver changes the tyres to snow tyres. In the past, some companies penalised car owners for adding snow tyres since they counted this change as a modification of the car. Now, it’s rare for a car insurer to penalize drivers for trying to make their cars safer in winter conditions. Since some insurance companies still prefer to be notified, it’s best to contact your insurance company and ask about their policy relating to snow tyres.
If you are driving in Europe, be aware of their laws regarding snow tyres and chains. Austria, Germany, and France recommend that drivers carry chains. In Germany, the drivers should use snow chains when signs indicate that they are needed. Germany also requires snow tyres or all-weather tyres in winter weather. Drivers in Austria must have snow or all-weather tyres from 1 November to 15 April and any time there are winter conditions. Drivers in Italy are recommended to have snow tyres from 15 October to 15 April.
Snow socks are textile wraps the driver installs around the tyre when they need added traction on a snow-covered road. These can be a cheaper alternative to snow tyres. However, they should only be used on snowy roads and not gritted streets. If used on dry or gritted streets, the fabric will be damaged. Some drivers keep these in their boot in case they need a boost to get through a snowy road. These snow socks are not one-size-fits-all. The driver must be sure to get the appropriate size for the size of the tyre.
If you need assistance deciding what kind of tyres you need, talk to our tyre experts at Nathaniel Car Sales Ltd. You can call 01656 339840 to have all your tyre questions answered.