We all know that British winters are very unpredictable. A friend who lives in the Scottish Borders, for instance, experienced two winters on the trot when the temperature stayed below freezing for six weeks, with snow on the ground for much of that time. In other years, there has been very little snow, but roads have been icy, especially if there has been a spell of wet weather followed by colder conditions. The last couple of winters, on the other hand, have been pretty mild and wet with not much in the way of frost or ice.
What, then, is the best way to approach winter driving? If you live in a rural area, it is possible that a 4 x 4 car would be the best option, but it is important to be aware of the overall cost, including petrol consumption. One option that is becoming more and more popular is to have two sets of car tyres – one for the summer and one for the winter.
What is the difference between summer and winter tyres?
Some of the materials in car tyres tend to become harder and more brittle in cold weather, making them a little less effective when it comes to road holding. Winter tyres are made with a greater percentage of natural rubber, which is less affected by temperature. This makes them able to “hug” the road surface more easily, giving better traction and braking performance in cold and wet weather than the slightly lighter summer tyres.
Another difference is that winter tyres have a more intricate tread, with lots of grooves cut into them, allowing snow to stick to the grooves. If you think of what happens when we make snowballs, you will realise that snow sticks to snow, so those cleverly designed grooves full of snow actually improve the road holding in snowy conditions by helping the tyres to stick to snowy surfaces – clever isn’t it!
Tests that have been carried out by driving magazines have found that there is a real difference in the sense of security and comfort when driving with winter tyres in cold and wet conditions. We at Avatyre supply a wide range of tyres for all seasons and at very competitive prices for UK car tyres, including winter tyres.
In some parts of the world, such as the French Alps, it is common for motorists to buy sets of snow chains, which are fitted for the winter. Whilst these work well in countries where it is a given that there will be several months with snow on the ground, they aren’t so suitable for the UK, with its unpredictable winter weather. Nor are they particularly easy to fit, especially if you have already been caught out in a snowstorm.
One of the real advantages of having two sets of tyres for your car – especially if you intend to keep it for a few years – is that both sets will last quite a long time. If average mileage for a car is around 10,000 miles per year and you fit the winter tyres for, say December to March, then you will probably have 3 or 4 years’ use out of both sets of tyres. The initial outlay is, obviously, a bit more expensive, but it is still a far cheaper option than buying a 4 x 4 car and winter tyres are now available for most makes of car. Contact us at Avatyre to check out our full range.