Winter tyres in a nutshell: benefits, regulations and the ideal time frame
Winter is well and truly here. With the temperatures falling, dark mornings drawing in and frost dusting the roads, drivers might be considering how to ensure their vehicle is ready to the face the elements. Some might event be considering fitting winter tyres.
But drivers shouldn’t wait for snow or Santa Claus to arrive before they swap to winter tyres. Here are just a few reasons why drivers should make the change sooner rather than later:
1. What are winter tyres?
Winter tyres are manufactured differently to their summer counterparts, engineered from a softer compound to stay flexible once the temperature dips below 7°C. This, combined with a specially designed tread pattern, provides superior road grip in cold, icy and snowy conditions. With that in mind, we would advise using winter tyres from around the start of November until mid-April, as these are the coldest months.
2. What are the benefits of winter tyres?
One of the major benefits of winter tyres is that they could cut your braking distance in half, compared to summer tyres. We’ve found that braking in snow with Goodyear winter tyres at a speed of 31 mph could make your car stop after 26.4 metres – compared to 77.9 metres on a set of standard summer tyres.
Winter tyres also provide excellent handling and a good steering response, using multiple edges and grooves in the tyre’s tread to dig into the snow and provide the driver with extra grip.
Both the shorter braking distance and excellent handling give drivers the confidence boost they need to face hills, bridges and sharp corners in unfavorable winter weather conditions. On top of that though, the durability of winter tyres easily exceeds those of summer tyres when used during the winter months.
3. In which EU countries are winter tyres mandatory?
Regulations on the use of winter tires vary widely across Europe. For example, there are no rules in Iceland, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ukraine or Cyprus. However, winter tyres are mandatory for all cars throughout a fixed period and on all roads – regardless of the weather conditions – in countries such as Norway, Finland, Russia, Belarus, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Slovenia. To ensure a safe holiday trip, we would recommend always checking the specific winter requirements for each country.
Even if you’re travelling to a country where it isn’t mandatory to fit winter tyres, if you’re going to be driving in temperatures below 7°C, we would still suggest considering a set of winter tyres.