Getting Winter Tyre Ready
Weather conditions are changing and temperatures are dropping. There can be no doubt that the glow of summer is long behind us and winter is here. While you might be focused on planning for Christmas or sorting out the garden for the colder months, preparing your vehicle tyres for winter is another seasonal job you must not forget.
Taking a little time to prepare your tyres can significantly improve the safe driving of your vehicle and the long life of your tyres. While winter tyres are not obligatory by UK law, vehicle specialists will advise that with safety in mind during colder months, winter tyres are the best choice to enable better handling and safer travel.
Why Winter Tyres?
Traditional tyres (summer tyres) use a rubber compound that typically stiffens when the temperature drops below freezing. This means that when travelling on a hard surface, they provide less grip and risk the vehicle slipping especially when travelling at speed. In contrast, winter tyres are prepared with a special rubber compound that retains its elasticity in order to remain flexible even during the colder conditions.
Perhaps you drive mostly in the city and consider that with well-maintained roads and the probability of snow and ice being cleared, winter tyres are an unnecessary extra? Think again. The important thing about winter tyres is that they are not simply designed for more rugged terrain, more ice, more snow etc. They allow better handling in all road and weather conditions. You can comfortably travel on any surface and in any condition knowing that you will have better traction, better stopping rates, and better handling than you could expect with standard tyres.
If switching up for winter is a step too far, then tread depth is your next most important consideration. Safe tread levels are always important, regardless of which tyres you choose or in fact, whatever the time of year. It becomes even more important during the winter months when snow and icy conditions make traction very difficult. Deeper tread means more surface friction and better handling. Tread depth is one of the things police will check in random vehicle checks (along with tail and headlights) and if your tyres are not within safe limits, this can result in a fine and penalty points – this should give you an idea of just how important this is.
Ready for Winter
When you’re ready to prepare your tyres, there are a few things to check:
1. Clear any debris from the tyres by washing;
2. Visually inspect the tyres and tread depth. If your tread depth is lower than 4.5mm for winter tyres, consider replacing them;
3. If you notice any rents or torn sections of the tyres, go to a local tyre centre or garage to have them checked;
4. If you have been storing winter tyres in the garage, check that they are balanced correctly. If not, it could impact the car’s suspension and lead to uneven deterioration – again, your local tyre centre can do this quickly and affordably;
5. Check the tyre pressure for each tyre – most filling station forecourts have a device for this and your vehicle manual will give you the info you need to make sure your pressure is optimal.
6. If using winter tyres, ensure that you have all four winter tyres. You may have been told that it’s only necessary to replace the front two tyres, but that is not the case, all four must be used to enable the benefits of driving with winter tyres.
When Is The Right Time
In the UK, the correct time to change your tyres from summer or all-weather to winter tyres is when average the 24 hour temperature falls below 7 degrees. Winter tyres are designed to operate well in lower temperatures, so bearing in mind we’re already starting to see frosty mornings, it could be time to make the switch. Summer tyres on the other hand, operate optimally in higher temperatures, so when the average 24 hour temperature rises above 7 degrees in spring, you can consider changing back.
Abbey Insurance Brokers
Whatever the driving needs, we have experts at Abbey who are available to answer your car insurance questions and look forward to hearing from you. We are available at 08000 66 55 44 or you can request a callback.