Should you switch to winter tyres?

by , Cars Researcher Transport & Travel 28 October 2011
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Winter’s on the way, and you’ve probably noticed several tyre makers, car manufacturers and fast-fit centres promoting winter tyres. So should you go out and buy some for your car?

Winter tyre

During last December’s cold snap, we asked for your views about winter tyres. Many of you strongly disagreed with our suggestion that, for many in the UK, it is hard to justify their cost.

As the weather starts to turn cold again, we thought we’d return to the subject. We’ve had three spells of extreme cold weather (by UK standards) in the last two winters. So it’s no surprise that many Which? Conversation commenters are weighing up whether they need to invest in winter tyres.

The benefits of winter tyres

Having recently compared summer and winter tyres myself, there’s no doubt that the latter really do help in adverse conditions. We know from independent tests that they grip better on ice and snow – and actually, tyre makers’ data supports the fact that they grip better below 7˚C. This would prevent many motorists becoming stranded, or worse, crashing. And in severe wet conditions, the deeper tread grooves are often better at dispersing surface water.

So I completely understand why some people living in very rural areas are preparing their cars by fitting winter tyres. It makes good sense if there’s another bad winter and you don’t fancy being cut-off. If that sounds like your situation, and the weather turns, I suggest you go out and buy some winter tyres soon as UK outlets don’t have a never-ending supply.

But if you live in a town or city, should you switch to winter tyres before the weather turns bad?

Usually, this involves buying not just four new tyres, but also a spare set of steel rims to fit them to. You’ll need to swap onto your winter wheels in late October or November, and back onto standard summer rubber in March. It’s important to change back when the weather picks up, as winter tyres have inferior grip and handling to summer ones in normal, warmer UK conditions.

In terms of cost, four winter tyres and spare rims for a Mini start from £560, excluding assembly. If, like me, you’re a family-hatch driver, KwikFit quotes £490.40 for a set of four 205/60 R16 Goodyear Ultragrip8 winter tyres – rims are extra.

Those up-front costs may seem eye-watering, but overall costs aren’t actually as high as they sound. You’ll get wear from both sets of tyres, so once you’ve made the investment, the average time between replacements will be roughly doubled.

The importance of good driving techniques

However, I’m still not convinced UK drivers in towns and cities need winter tyres, for two reasons. First, while there has been some extreme weather in the past couple of years, UK winters tend to be far milder than countries where winter tyre use is mandatory.

Winter tyres would certainly help drivers get their cars off the drive when it’s icy or snowing, and would even be beneficial in freezing rain. But prolonged snow and ice are rare. Second, I believe good driving techniques are just as important as the tyres fitted.

My 33-year driving career includes extensive personal year-round driving in the UK and Europe. Plus, I also have professional driving experiences from being a car mechanic on breakdown duty during the 1980-81 cold-snap, through to my time as an engineer in the mid-90s, testing tyres on the frozen lakes of northern Sweden. I’ve also overseen Which?’s role in tyre testing over the last 10 years.

I’ve never been one to shy away from travel when the going gets tough, but I’ve never had to fit cold-weather tyres to my own cars as I’ve never found myself stranded due to ice or snow.

As a young mechanic, my employer wouldn’t have allowed me behind the wheel without showing me how to drive in slippery conditions – higher gears, gentle clutch, throttle and brake use, careful steering and above all, lower speeds. I’ve used these skills in every car I’ve driven, without getting stuck or crashing.

Improve tyre education

I also think more could be done to improve drivers’ awareness of the importance of keeping their tyres in check. Surveys (including our own) show that the vast majority of UK drivers don’t pay much attention to the condition of their tyres, regardless of what type they are – often running around on partially bald, damaged or under-inflated tyres.

That’s a bigger health risk to every driver on the roads than using summer tyres throughout winter. So why don’t garages offer free tyre health-checks as well as selling us winter rubber?

But I know this debate won’t fade away. As the industry markets winter tyres, many of you want to know more about their pros and cons.

We’ve already tested an alternative solution to this by looking at some all-season tyres (Which? members can see these on our main website) which are designed to offer an option that combines winter and summer tyre characteristics and that can be used all year round.

They won’t answer everyone’s needs, so here at Which?, we’re looking into historical weather data to independently establish whether there’s a case for more UK drivers to switch tyres twice yearly. In the meantime, if you live in a rural area, where winter or all-season tyres make driving your car safer in adverse weather conditions, we’d advise considering changing sooner rather than later.

255 comments

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dieseltaylor

I do think Which? has been quite derelict in its duty to its subscribers by not stressing the difference between summer and winter tyres. The fact this thread is now saying
“We also began testing winter tyres due to feedback on Which? ”
I thought Which? should be ahead on safety issues not lagging.

Feedback ! it was positively overwhelming the readers versus Which?. And still unbelievably we have nothing on Which? about winter versus summer[normally fitted] tyres. I am not suggesting for a moment that it is necessary for everyone to rush out and buy them HOWEVER if people were made aware of the difference in performance in cold weather they may appreciate more the drawbacks and benefits. Then people can make an informed decision. Providing separate tests is no great help to the average person whose knowledge of tyre technology is minimal.

I have snow tyres on my car now for two winters and a summer and they are still in excellent state having covered less than 12000 miles. If I were a high mileage user then I may actually bother with two sets. Incidentally from this site in NW3
http://nw3weather.co.uk/wx14.php
There have been so far this year 191 days with a minimum temperature below 10C and 72 days with a temperature over 20C. And 88 days a minimum of below 5C. So if you drive early morning or late evening which temperature most likely is your norm?

When the tyre companies talk about summer tyres ….what temperatures are they talking about! As a clue most tyre pressures are calibrated at 72F or 22C

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Bertie8752

I have just been told that with a front wheel drive car it is beneficial and safe to fit winter tyres just to the front wheels.
I see the logic that’s where the grips needed.
Anyone tried this?

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Stuart Walker

Not recommended. The difference in grip between winter tyres and summer ones is so great that dramatic loss of control is increased. There is a youtube video showing this effec but I can’t find it at the moment.

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Stuart Walker

As a follow up, this is similar to the advice regarding tyre wear. I.e the most worn tyres should go on the front (of a front wheel drive) car and the best on the rear. This will decrease the chances of rear wheel skidding.

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Tim

I agree with Stuart.

Two winter tyres are beneficial, but fitting on all four wheels is rather more beneficial and avoids one of the risks. Last winter I ran one car with four winter tyres and another with two on the front (driving) wheels.

I have driven cars with two winters on the front, on and off, for many winters. I was used to dealing with the back end sliding about on corners. Last winter, with two winter tyres, I took my foot off the accelerator because I wanted to drive just a little more slowly, Under nothing more than engine braking I found the back of the car starting to overtake the front. I no longer have as much confidence as I used to, to pull it straight again by accelerating a little. With four winter tyres that doesn’t happen. So now I avoid using just two. But given a choice between two winters or none, I would definitely choose two. So my experience tells me, four winter tyres good, two winter tyres not so good, but better than none.

One day people will realise that driving on snow and ice with summer tyres is as irresponsible as using bald tyres (slicks) in the rain.

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Tony Hunt

Keeping the power on with front-wheel-drive certainly helps keep things stable, but is not much use if you are trying to slow down! De-clutching as an alternative decreases the drag on the driven wheels and thus also stabilises things well while allowing the sliding rear wheels to slow the car.. Quickest way of all to stop is to put the car sideways with all four wheels locked to stop it veering off to one side, but that won’t work on current cars with anti-lock brakes, which will ensure that the wheels retain some directional grip and will put you into the ditch.

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dieseltaylor

I am not sure who told you bertie but all the info suggest you should not mix tyre types.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cBSWEhimdA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzB7hpWhqIA

Please note that the latter video is using All Seasons as the alternate pair to go with the two winter tyres.. All Seasons are superior in poor weather to the standard tyres that most UK cars come with.

You also need to consider your insurance company’s view as you are actually fitting a bad combination. You may recall that the insurance industry got into a tizzy about winter tyres last year.

Summer tyres are the cheapest to make and that is why they come fitted as bog standard from the car companies. For our climate all-seasons would be more sensible but who cares? As my sole car has big fat tyres I do need winter tyres – the narrower a tyre the easier it is to shift water and cut through ice and snow.

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Bertie8752

I guess I will need to buy 4 winter tyres. I suspected that might be the case
My thanks to all who have commented

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Nickrs

I have just ordered my winter tyres but I will see what turns up at the end of the week as the dealer says he can supply 4 x 185/60R15 Continental Winter Tyres on brand new Vauxhall steel rims (all via Vauxhall) for £375 fitted and I can’t find any 185/60R15s on Conti’s winter tyre web page, they are all 185/65R15s.

As I have gone down the manufacturer/dealer route I hope I won’t have any problems. I have advised my insurance company (LV/Frizzell/CSMA) who have approved and recorded the details for no change in premium.

I live in the wilds of rural Wales and leaving the car at home is not really an option, we are live two miles from the nearest gritted road (can you hear me Powys CC?). I used to keep an old L.R. or Suzuki 4×4 fitted with Mud&Snow rubber as a spare car, but three years ago I listened to the economic and environmental arguments and now have two “normal” cars, what happened? Snow and floods that’s what happened!! Fed up with being trapped at home for days on end in the dark months I have now splurged cash on new winter wheels/tyres for one car, I wonder if we will now have the driest, warmest winter on record!

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Mondy man

Have 4 on mine

4x steel wheels from.scrappy
£60 – £15 each

4x Star Performer tyres from mytyres
£236 – £59 each

Fitting, valves and balance
£20 – £5 each

I used to drive on 2 fronts with care as always knew I could obtain grip but after seeing videos on using 2, decided it was not safe so upgraded to 4.

Massive improvement having 4 fitted and last weekend went up into the pennines to take my 2 year old sledging. Was doing as good or better than 4×4′s out there..

Worth every penny as over last three years the number of times I have put on hazards and over took the summer tyre boys slipping and sliding around getting nowhere..

If you take your own and you’re families safety seriously, then a responsible driver should fit them..

I live in the city and even here on slushy roads, the tyres can shift the slush better than summer versions.

Snow chains in the boot just in case

0 to 4 inches – winter tyres ideal
4 to 6 inches and poor grip I put on chains

Off to Scotland’s ski resorts next week and have no worries should a drop of snow cross our path..

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Ned

WHERE’S THE WEAR DATA?
I commented a couple of years ago that the price per km of the tyre is more important than the purchase price, but once again, having taken all the trouble and expense to measure the wear rates, you have hidden the results from us!

We just get some blobs. How can we divide the purchase price by blobs? We need kms estimated lifetime. (That would actually be more useful than diving price by lifetime, because one should also factor in the cost of fitting, and purchase price also varies.)

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Wear

I have a set of Goodridges on the rear and a set of ‘asian’ tyres on the front.

To be honest having had the rears on the front last year, the asian tyres although classed as budget, perform better than the Goodridge’s and the Dunlop’s I had the previous year..

As for wear, I have done 7,000 miles since October and still loads on them.

They may wear very slightly quicker (depends how you drive) than summer tyres but not enough to worry as they are only on the car for 4 months of the year.

Is it not worth a little extra wear (and cost) for the benifits of being able to stop twice as quick as the car in front, hold the car on corners and the overall safety of yourself and passengers.

I am a convert, especially after driving around in 4-6 inches of snow the last couple of weeks with no issues at all except for the road buried in 8 foot of drive this weekend as well as being able to drive safely on icy roads and knowing that the softer rubber will grip better below 7 degrees where summer and all season’s are hard and slip and lock up quicker.

Even though ‘we get little snow’, I strongly believe these tyres should be legal requirement in winter irrelevant of snow or not as cold tyres summer tyres used in winter are a danger to others on the roads.

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dieseltaylor

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-22370005

February 2012 in the morning. I wonder what tyres were on the Chief Constables Audi Quattro – summer tyres as a bet.

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Iain

Late comment for last year, but as we’re getting near to that time of year again, here goes:-

I have regularly changed from summer to winter tyres for the last four winters. It is obvious that Which have not actually researched this subject at all. Winter Tyres, to give them their correct terminology, (Snow Tyres are something completely different) are designed to cope with cold temperatures, ice and snow, to a degree. This is due to a compound difference maintaining more suppleness at cold temperatures. Put simply, the tyre remains softer at low temperatures, below 7 degrees C, therefore it is able to mould itself to the road more readily than the summer tyre, which becomes hard and plastic. I have a standard Ford Focus and have never been stopped from getting to my destination since using winter tyres. I was even getting past pretend 4×4′s on standard tyres. Winter Tyres are, quite frankly, inherently safer during winter than standard summer tyres at low temperatures, even when there is no snow.

Until you’ve tried them, you won’t appreciate the difference, obviously Which haven’t. If you value your safety, you’ll use them.

As for putting them on the driven wheels only on a two wheel drive vehicle, this is an absolute no-no, as others have commented on here.

I think the original published piece and this updated piece from Which is quite frankly not in the public interest, as a consumer group, shoudn’t Which be promoting safety on the road?

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Tim

Winter tyres are walking boots for cars. Would you go out in slippery, icy weather with smooth soled shoes?

Why on earth do we leave summer tyres on our cars in the winter? I have used winter tyres on very ordinary cars since 1986, they make a massive difference on the road and I don’t have to clear my steep long drive when it snows. My neighbour, with summer tyres, leaves it on the roadside for several weeks each winter, he can’t climb our drive.

Summer tyres should be illegal in winter, they are dangerous.

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Lee

Good to see common sense is starting to show on this subject..

I have tried twice to ask my MP to take this issue to parliament for consideration of changes to the law and I am banging my head against a brick wall. From mis-informaed MPs in parts of the country that wrongly believe winter tyres damage the roads which was the reason for not wanting to pursue this.

This is not about gimmicks, having boys toys or anything else other than the safety and knowledge that taking my little girl out in the car, she has the best possible prevention of her being hurt in an accident.

Sometimes I wonder whether Which just wants to sidle up to the ‘misers’ of society or whether they truly think that something which has such a significant impact on safety is something we should have to spend money on the tyres.

I would rather not have to buy another set of tyres, but after using these for a number of years, will never ever take a car onto the road without them, even in the town which after a small amount of snow becomes grid locked due to others unable to drive, this blocking roads.

Could YOU forgive yourself for hurting your precious children for the sake of £400?

I agree with comment above, Summer Tyres are ‘unfit for purpose’ in winter and should be enforceable in law.

Just booked the Grampians for the end of January (praying for snow) and look forward to getting to places 4×4′s can’t get to as the Mondeo estate I have with decent tyres can cope.. Last year with 4 inches of snow on the road, not one slip on the way up to Glenshee Ski centre where I passed two 4×4′s that could not continue up the hill!

I have used Avon, Dunlop and other known brands in the past and last year struggling to find a brand in stock, decided to try Star Performer tyres made in Asia as what I thought would be ‘cheap and chearful’ was better than none at all. To be honest, they were half the price and honestly, twice as good as the more known brands and at £45 a tyre delivered, an absolute bargain..

Driving up the A9 in the Grampians in slush at 55mph in January, suddendly hitting a 2 inch drift on the road and other than the road noise changing from splashing under the sills to the silence of driving on snow, nothing else changed the car ploughed on allowing me to brake without a hint of ABS cutting in to 35mph and continued without so much as a twitch where I past the police dealing with 2 smashed up cars by the side of the road..

Need I say more?

The only time I have had to turn around was last year when I was travelling around Bolton and turned onto a road where there was 2 mountain rescue landrovers parked up. The guy came over to me. I said I can get through as I have winter tyres and chains to which came the sarcastic reply, ‘I dont think anyone can get through 12 foot of snow drift’ so turned back and took a detour.

I live in the city and completly disagree that these tyres are not need around town, a completly irresponsible statement without considering the facts..

Safey always comes with a cost and having two sets of tyres simply spreads the cost of replacements..

Roll on winter..

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dieseltaylor

Good to get this restarted early . The results of the American Consumer Association testing of UHP tyres are known and appear in their November issue. Which no doubt appears1st of October!!.

http://www.moderntiredealer.com/blog/the-biss-list/story/2013/08/consumer-reports-michelin-leads-the-pack.aspx

In another version of this thread – snow socks – I was moved to mention that summer tyres are the cheapest to make and that is why cars come fitted with them. The fact that a car in Mlaga and one in Britain share the same tyre type is interesting. Malaga never goes below the magic 7C figure where summer tyres harden up. Randomly I chose Bradford as a comparison and I was astonished to find for ten months of the year the average monthly range shows it dipping below 10C.

I ought to mention that air temperature is normally measured a few feet off the ground [between 1.25 to 2 metres] and on still nights ground temperature can be several degrees colder than the reported level.

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Stuart

Good comments. I would clarify though that the cost of buying them in addition to ‘summer’ tyres is repaid over the lifespan of the tyres as either set is only used for part of the year, meaning they should last twice as long before needing replaced. The only real expense incurred is the need to swap them over twice a year – I get my local garage to do this for £30.

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Lee

Take on board your comment about £30 per swap, you can get it down to £20 if you know the tyre dealer well enough as no valves are needed, just re-blancing and if you are a regular for tyres and the promise of a return to put the summer ones back on..

Rather than swap the tyres, I recommend searching auction sites for ‘runner’ wheels. The Mondeo I have in summer has its usual 18inch alloys in summer and then I have a set of taxi wheels in steel which have many benefits:

1) cost of the tyres for the steel wheels less half the price of the alloys (£40-85 / £180)
2) salt and slush water on the roads wont ruin the alloys as they are safely in the garage
3) wide alloy wheels tend to build up slush, snow and grit on the inside, unbalancing the wheels
4) no cost to change, takes me 15-25 mins to swap all 4 wheels over

On a long drive in snow, grit and slush, I find alloys tend to start to build up an uneven mass within the wheel itself on inside of the rim which then lobs itself round at the speed making driving horrendous and feeling like driving on 4 unbalanced flats, until blasted or washed off (try finding a jet wash in winter) where steel wheels due to the rim shape seem to just throw it back onto the road.

I bought 2 wheels for my Mondeo for around £45 from a scrapper last year..

This saves against the cost of keep changing, plus ideal as just when you think winter is over and you have changed the tyres back only to find in March another cold snap is on its way, just change the wheels again (for free)

Maybe if:

1) tyre manufactures got together and unilaterally stated that none of thier summer tyres should be used in winter and that they will not stand by any recommendation to use them

2) insurance companies refused to pay on a day/night of an accident where it can be proved temperature was below 7 degrees and summer / all season tyres where fitted

This will soon change the law!!

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Tim

Lee mentions “I bought 2 wheels for my Mondeo for around £45 from a scrapper last year”.
For anyone who runs an older car it can cost very little indeed. My examples are 7 year old Astra £3 each, 8 year old Punto £5, Four year old Primera £6 for an unused one. Unfortunately I couldn’t do the same with my Auris last year due to the lack of supply so I had to buy new steels. It was well worth the reduced stress of being able to control the car. A scrapper told me that Toyota’s ceasing to supply a spare wheel for this car has resulted in people buying them used, so supply exceeded demand.

Lee’s remark about tyre manufacturers is an interesting one. I wonder whether anyone has taken a garage to court because they supplied inappropriate (summer) tyres during winter weather and this resulted in an accident.

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dieseltaylor

Lee – I am not sure why you lump summer tyres with all-seasons as all seasons are suited for cold weather. Not as good in snow as winter tyres and probably less suitable than winter tyres for prolonged very cold weather but that can no doubt be tested.

Your suggestion on insurance does suffer from the fact that you may commence and end your journey in 7C+ territory!

I would settle for All-Seasons with a snowflake symbol being mandatory fit on cars with the ability for people to put summers and winters on within defined periods.

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Iain

Lee,

Out of interest, what steel wheel and tyre combination do you use on your Mondeo?

Thanks,

Iain

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tony h

Before pressing for draconian measures to ensure that everyone changes their tyres from summer to winter every year whether whether they need to or not (a tyre-dealer’s delight), you might like to bear in mind that even in Germany it is not mandatory to use winter tyres in winter – unless you drive in “wintry conditions”, i.e. snow, ice or slush. On normal wet or dry winter roads which pertain most of the time – even in Bavaria, summer tyres are perfectly acceptable.

During my six years in Munich, I managed perfectly well for a few years on summer tyres. There is no problem so long as you are sensible – as you still need to be when using winter tyres. When I decided I wanted to use my car also in snowy conditions in the Alps, I bought winter tyres – on their own steel rims – and swapped every year, sometimes totally needlessly as I didn’t need to drive on snow that winter!

The business of summer tyres becoming ‘unsafe’ at less than 7 degrees has to be a nonsense. The first thing I noticed every year when I switched back to summer tyres was the improved roadholding on wet or dry roads brought about by the more stable tread pattern – the deep highly-cut treads of soft-compound winter tyres distort (and wear) too readily when pressed hard.

The tyres in question, summer and winter, were top ones in the tests carried out by Stiftung Warentest – the German equivalent of Which?

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dieseltaylor

” There are currently no legal requirements making it mandatory to use winter tyres in the UK, but an increased number of road accidents in the colder months, where drivers are six times more likely to have an accident from October to March*, makes a good argument for fitting them to your vehicle.”

Tonyh made the comment regarding Germany, or more particularly Bavaria, but did not advise when he lived there as rules changed in 2010

“The rules in Germany changed at the end of 2010 – regulations now require all passenger cars and motorbikes including vehicles from foreign countries to be fitted with winter tyres or all season tyres on all axles when conditions are wintery.

If your vehicle becomes stuck during the winter months because the tyres are unsuitable you will be liable to an on the spot fine in Germany. If the vehicle causes an obstruction and aggravation to other traffic, the fine may be doubled. You may also be prevented from continuing your journey.
” AA

It is true to say that in Germany it is not compulsory to fit winter tyres to allow for people to take out their cars on a sunny day for a spin. However for the vast majority of people who commute the weather in the morning and evening cannot be relied on.

Incidentally 98% of Germany lies south of the latitude of Liverpool and Manchester. They may have cold dry weather but we have damp cold weather and the British Tyre Manufacturers’ Association states that a car fitted with winter tyres braking from 62mph on a cold, wet road will stop about 16ft shorter than a regular summer tyre. If that 5 metres means hitting something you would probably prefer the more appropriate tyre.

I am in favour of the most practical option for the UK and it is possible that it is All-Seasons. I have had winter tyres on my only car a Porsche Cayman continually since 2010. I find its ride much improved both in winter and in our [rainy] summer and still have 7mm of tread – well above the 4mm where winter tyres become less efficient and hugely above the UK 1.6mm regulation.

Continental tests showing tyre tread depth importance:
“To test his assertion, we tested three Volkswagen Golfs on a streaming wet surface at the MIRA proving ground. Each was fitted with Continental tyres and the weather was warm. The first, with 8mm of tread, stopped from 50mph in less than 128ft, the second with 3mm, managed it in 136ft but the third, with the legal minimum of 1.6mm, took a sweaty-palm-inducing 169ft. In a real emergency, those figures would be higher. ”

So there we have it six times more liekly to have an accident October to March. Must mean something!?

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tony h

Yes, as I said, winter tyres are only mandatory “when conditions are wintery”, which is defined as snow, ice or slush.

Your figures on tread depth are illuminating. The differences between 8mm and 1.6mm is much greater than the difference between summer and winter tyres you quoted earlier. Moreover, I am sure that my balding summer tyres stopped at least that much better than my deeply-treaded ‘Q’ rated winter tyres on a dry road…

The all-season option is an interesting one, as it saves all the hassle and most of the expense associated with winter tyres. Presumably you find them grippy enough under all circs, and seem to indicate that the wear rate is acceptable. How is the handling – of especial interest to Cayman owners, I’d imagine, which I may soon become. Certainly I find predictable handling more important than ultimate grip and road-holding, at least laterally, where you can always have to dial in an appropriate cornering speed anyway (contrast braking, where shorter is always better)

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dieseltaylor

I actually was talking of my winter tyres – I have yet to try All Seasons and may continue with the winter ones in future as here in south London every year since we moved here five years ago we have had whole weeks of snow on the ground and the road.

Big fat sporty tyres are useless in snow and in cold mornings near zero their wet performance is not that good. incidentally I think a Pistonheads reviewer said he preferred the feel of the Cayenne with winter tyres is the summer.

For the vast majority of people with sensible narrowish tyres I am sure that the All-Seasons would be a very sensible solution for cold weather and snow. The benefits to the country’s overall economy by people not snarling up the traffic and the reduced accidents makes it seem to me to be a no-brainer.

Summer tyres are the cheapest to make not specially chosen because of the torrid heat of the UK scorching summer : )

PS The Cayman is a wonderful drive. I have the original model from new and still gives me a buzz.
Second-hand will have all the feel good factor plus save a serious amount.

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RichardG

I have been convinced for some time that winter tyres are a must in wintry conditions. A colleague of mine who had a BMW316 said the car was lethal in the winter but with winter tyres on, he felt as safe as he would in summer with normal ones on. I have been looking for 16in steel rims for a Mazda6 – does anyone know where I can get some as Mazda do not know and I have tried Google and eBay?

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wavechange

We have had much debate about winter tyres but what about the relative safety of front wheel drive and rear wheel drive cars in winter weather with regard to stopping distance and keeping the vehicle under control.

I am NOT referring to the relative performance at getting started and ability to go up hills when there is snow on the ground.

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dieseltaylor

I am not sure that handling differences, if any, between front and rear wheel drive is going to advance the subject much. We already have plenty of proof positive that tyres are the most important factor with numerous examples of 4WDs failing when shod with inappropriate tyres.

I have mentioned in one of these threads that a Traffic Accident policeman has lamented that in a coroners court the question is “Where the tyres legal?” so inappropriateness is never discussed.

Which? has a rather bizarre attitude to tyres with nary one straight comparison of summer tyres, all seasons, and winter tyres. The link in the header article to all-season tyres does not work and a word search does not reveal it specifically.

In the magazine currently [December] it says:

” .. the all-season tyres we’ve tested don’t grip as well as the best summer tyres in warmer weather or as well as winter tyres when it is cold. Consequently we do not recommend them.”

I find the logic of this flawed rather as Solly Zuckerman must have found Bomber Command’s Operational research rather wanting. Firstly it would surely be impossible for a single general purpose tyre to be “best” in the extremes of cold and dry. That it might be in the top 25% of all tyres tested at the extremes seems not to be contemplated – just not as good as the best.

Now perhaps if we send that All-Seasons, as implied, perform most adequately for 95% of the UK climatic year compared to a lesser percentage for the other tyres that would be a consideration.

Incidentally the braking tests on packed snow:
Summer tyres 20.7m
winter 8.9m
and this is for the well-know 19 mph to 3 mph test. I would actually like to know how much further a car would travel from 19mph to zero as I find T junctions normally require me not to slide over.

In fact the Which? tests are done at a variety of speeds as the cold wet road braking test is 50mph to 12 mph, and the dry cold test is 62mph to zero. If one casually looks at the graphic in the current magazine the bar graphs seem to indicate wet stopping distances are similar to dry. I loathe misleading graphics.

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wavechange

Perhaps here is not the right place to discuss how well FWD and RWD vehicles perform as regards stopping and vehicle control under adverse conditions, but since we are concerned about safety it seemed reasonable to ask a related question.

I have not read the article but I also detest misleading graphics, even if this is accidental.

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Matt

Have had winter tyres on Clios for some 5yrs now. Initially I changed them for summer tyres at the appropriate times but due to lack of storage now keep winter tyres on all year around. Living in the SE, UK there does not seem to be any noticeable deterioration in their performance in summer and they have worn very well.
They do seem to ride better and more quietly and have performed extremely well in the occasional snow.

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