Some motorists mistake winter tyres for those which are spiked or studded and more at home in colder countries which come to expect harsh winters as a seasonal norm.
Others, almost half of all motorists in fact, are not even aware of them.
Research carried out by Ford shows that having winter tyres fitted to your vehicle can improve your braking distances by 10% in the rain, and 20% in the snow, compared with summer tyres. So they’re certainly worth considering.
If you’re one of the 47% of UK motorists who are completely uninformed about winter tyres, or just need some more information, read on.
What are winter tyres and how do they work?
Winter tyres have a number of features which make them better suited not just to treacherous surfaces, but lower temperatures. High-silica compounds keep them flexible in spite of cold weather, which makes them less prone to skidding in all weather when the temperature drops below 7oC.
Extra deep treads help disperse slush and surface water while tiny slits on the tread block provide better grip on tarmac, snow and ice crystals.
Winter tyres can be indentified from their “normal” counterparts – summer tyres, which most motorists in the UK use – by a snowflake symbol on the side. Tyres with studs like a football boots are not legal for use on UK roads.
Does a four-wheel drive do the same job?
While four-wheel drives do give better traction in winter weather, they don’t provide much more extra help when attempting to break or corner in snow, ice and surface water.
Can I keep winter tyres on all year round?
Winter tyres will wear down quicker in higher temperatures for which they weren’t designed, and could also negatively impact stopping distances and cornering in the same way summer tyres would in winter.