The first frost for winter 2015 has seen forecasters predicting more cold weather for the coming weeks. Conditions on the roads are likely deteriorate and a repeat of last years weather could bring some of the worst driving conditions seen across the Midlands.
Winter tyres use a tread rubber compound (high silica content) and tread pattern specifically designed to retain flexibility in low temperatures (below +7C) and give good braking/traction performance on snow/ice as well as on wet roads in cold conditions .
The sidewall of a winter tyre will be marked with a symbol showing a snowflake or snow-topped mountains.
Winter tyres are not really suited to all year round use though – summer tyres will give better performance when temperatures are higher and roads dry – so we reccommend two sets of tyres if you’re going to choose specialist tyres for winter.
Should you buy winter tyres?
Winter tyres make sense if you live in a remote area where winter conditions are likely to be worse for longer or you have essential journeys to make throughout the winter months.
Otherwise it may be harder to justify the cost, though this has to be a personal decision depending on the risk of bad weather, your confidence when driving and how much you have to drive when snow and ice are around.
Winter tyres must be fitted in sets of four. Fitting only one pair will affect the balance and stability of the car.
All Season Tyres
As an alternative you could consider buying ‘All Season Tyres’ which also have a high silica content for low temperature flexibility and a tread pattern somewhere between a normal summer tyre and an out-and-out winter tyre. Like all compromises they’re unlikely to be as good as the best specialist tyre but can be expected to work better on wintry roads than a summer tyre and you will avoid the hassle and cost of swapping wheels/tyres twice a year
Insurance implications – winter tyres
If you fit winter or all-season tyres in place of your standard ‘summer’ tyres there should be no need to tell your insurer – even though the speed index might be lower.
The lower speed index is still likely to exceed all national speed limits by a considerable margin – with the exception of some German autobahns – and is not checked as part of the passenger car MOT test.
If you follow the standard European practice of keeping two sets of wheels, one with winter tyres and one with summer tyres, then you shouldn’t need to tell your insurer as long as the winter tyres are fitted to wheels of the correct specification for your vehicle.
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI)
If anything winter tyres should reduce the accident risk and, by implication, drivers who fit them are likely to be more risk-conscious too.
The major motor insurers have all confirmed that they would not class fitting winter tyres as a material modification and it would not impact on the premium. The one condition would be that they would expect such tyres to be fitted by reputable garage/dealer, in accordance with the motor manufacturer’s specifications.
Some said that they would not require the policyholder to tell the insurer these tyres had been fitted, but the ABI’s advice is to play safe and tell your insurer anyway.
Tread depth and pressure
Whatever tyres you fit they must have enough tread – at least 3mm is recommended for winter, and certainly no less than 2mm.
Check tyre pressures too but don’t be tempted to try reducing pressure when there’s snow and ice about – it doesn’t help with grip and can affect handling.
At Carizma we offer Free tyre condition checks including pressures and advice on tyre choice and also supply and fit all tyre types to the highest standards all at very competitive prices.
Contact us via the web site or give us a call for a free quote 01664 500111