Winter tyres are becoming an increasingly popular option for people here in the UK, to help them better cope with the bad weather and slippery conditions typical of the winter months. It’s a common misconception that they are only for driving on ice and snow. In fact, they are designed to offer increased traction, grip and safety any time that the temperature is 7°C or lower. They can also offer better grip in the rain or over wet leaves in the road, so even if it doesn’t snow they can be a more than worthwhile investment for the colder months. The alloy wheel repair experts at our accident repair centre explain everything you need to know about winter tyres…
What are winter tyres?
When you buy a car in the UK, most of the time they will come fitted with either summer tyres or all-season tyres. These are both best suited to warmer temperatures and milder climates, and may provide less grip and traction when the mercury starts to drop. Winter tyres are designed specifically for use in cold and wet conditions, and come with a number of different features compared to summer tyres in order to help them better grip the road and disperse water from their tread.
The key differences between summer and winter tyres are:
Winter tyres use softer rubber compounds, which are designed to stay softer and better grip the road in low temperatures.
The tread of winter tyres features small jagged slits called sipes, which increase the tyre’s surface area to help improve traction.
They generally have deeper tread than summer tyres and all-season tyres, which helps displace water and offer more grip in snowy conditions.
What are winter tyres for?
Winter tyres are designed to offer greater traction, grip and braking performance in temperatures below 7°C. The rubber compounds used to make summer tyres and all-season tyres are designed to perform best in milder weather, and the low temperatures will cause the rubber to contract and harden, reducing your vehicle’s ability to grip the road effectively. The chunkier tread patterns and special sipe grooves of winter tyres also mean that they perform better in the wet, on snow and ice. When driving in the rain the larger tread helps expel water from underneath the tyre, reducing the chance of aquaplaning over puddles and stagnant water. That means that even if it doesn’t snow, they can be a worthwhile purchase in the typically cold and dreary winter weather that we experience here in the UK. However, when used in the snow the large tread actually helps to trap snow into the tyre. This may sound counter-intuitive, but nothing grips snow better than snow itself meaning that the tyres will be much grippier and therefore likely safer to use in snowy conditions. It is worthwhile noting, however, that fitting a set of winter tyres won’t magically mean your car is able to drive on snow and ice with the same ease you would drive on dry tarmac. Our alloy wheel repair experts advise that, as your overall grip levels will still be drastically reduced, caution must always be taken when driving in adverse wintry conditions.
Can you use winter tyres in the summer?
They will suffer from significantly poorer performance in dry conditions and in temperatures above 7°C. The softer rubber used to make them will wear out much quicker than summer or all-season tyres, and will markedly increase braking distances and grip in bends. The best thing to do is to have a set of winter tyres and wheels, and then rotate them with summer or all-seasons when the weather and temperature improves. Not only will this ensure you drive with the most grip possible, it will also extend the lifespan of both sets of tyres. Many drivers can make a set of good winter tyres and good summer tyres last a couple of years by rotating them often for the best performance and best wear.
Winter Tyres vs All-Season Tyres
All-season tyres are offered as a halfway point between winter and summer tyres and are intended to be used all year round. However, all-season tyres are neither as good in warm weather as summer tyres, or as good in the cold and snow as winter tyres. As a result, while all-season tyres will perform better in the winter than summer tyres, they are still no match for the grip and abilities of a proper winter tyre. However, our alloy wheel repair experts have found that drivers who live in urban areas which are less affected by cold weather may find all-seasons an acceptable compromise if they’d prefer not to buy a set of specialised winter wheels and tyres.
Use Jenkins & Pain, Award-Winning Accident Repair Centre
There you have it, if you do find yourself needing accident repair or alloy wheel repair and need a car repair or van repair you can count on us to complete all jobs using industry-standard processes. We offer free quotes and with our exclusive repair service, we are sure you will be happy with the results. Contact our Vehicle Body Shop today. Jenkins & Pain are a vehicle accident repair centre based in Dover, Kent. We are proud to call ourselves an award-winning accident repair centre. Check out our guide on how to look after your alloys!
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