In countries such as Germany, Sweden and Austria, winter tyres are compulsory. In the UK, however, winter tyres are not a legal requirement and many of us question if it's worth investing in a new set of tyres. Generally speaking, if you live in a remote area where conditions are likely to be worse for longer or there's a greater risk of bad weather, winter tyres should be considered. Your confidence driving in these conditions and how much you have to drive in snow and ice will also help to determine whether winter tyres are necessary.
There are two main differences between winter and regular tyres: tread depth and material. Regular tyres have a 7 and 8mm thread depth and as the temperature drops, the material of regular tyres stiffens which reduces their grip. Winter tyres, on the other hand, have a tread depth of between 8 and 9mm, wider grooves and narrow slits at the edges of the tread area. The rubber material of winter tyres stays soft and maintains a grip on snow and ice.
What are the benefits of winter tyres?
As well as enhancing road grip, winter tyres improve a car's stopping distance. Compared to regular tyres, braking distance can be reduced by as much as the length of two cars when driving at 30mph on a snow-covered road.
In addition, winter tyres provide a much better grip in both wet and dry weather conditions where temperatures are below 7°C. As temperatures are low in the UK typically from October through to March, winter tyres offer extra safety on the road.
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