Winter Tyres

Drivers in many European countries have to keep two sets of tyres (or wheels and tyres) for their cars – a whole set and a summer set – swapping them over in spring and autumn. Besides the obvious costs involved, motorists must also find space to store four sets of bulky and heavy wheels and tyres.

The government has no plans to make winter tyres compulsory in the UK because our climate doesn't justify a mandatory tyre change. Nevertheless, more drivers are choosing to use them for improved safety and peace of mind, particularly in more remote parts of the country, or where they have to rely on their car all year round.

We can send an experienced fitter to your location, at work or home, to fit your vehicle with winter tyres. We encourage this due to the increased safety and mobility they provide to motorists.

Braking distance facts

Winter tyres are specially formulated to reduce braking distances and improve traction during inclement weather conditions. In comparison to summer tyres used in this period, braking distances can be halved. The below table provides industry-recognised data highlighting their effectiveness on snow, ice, and in the wet.

Road condition & speedSummer TyresBraking DistanceWinter TyresBraking Distance
Travelling 30mph on Snow62 metres29 metres
Travelling 20mph on Ice67 metres56 metres
Travelling 62mph on Wet68 metres64 metres

FAQs

The following questions are included as an insight for motorists on how winter tyres operate in varying situations.

1. I live in the city, do I really need them?

They do offer greater grip and stability in the cold winter months. In the UK, where temperatures from October to March are typically below +7°C, the cold weather adversely affects the summer tyre compound. This leads to the tyres hardening which reduces braking effectiveness, grip and traction capabilities, regardless of an urban or rural environment.

2. Replacing tyres is expensive, why should I switch to a winter range?

While it's initially expensive to replace tyres for the changing season, once you have a set of winter tyres you can place your summer tyres securely in store until the spring, then change them back again when necessary. Meanwhile, you'll have the optimal safety, grip, and mobility for the often hazardous road conditions during winter.

3. Are they only for snowy conditions?

No. While they are manufactured to actively respond to snow covered road surfaces, they also offer excellent performance on wet and dry roads during winter months. This is because the tread patterns have been specially designed to reduce the risk of aquaplaning, whilst simultaneously offering grip on icy road surfaces.

4. Why can't I have them fitted all year round?

They are manufactured with a compound which offers peak performance in temperatures below 7°C. They can be used during other seasons, but would offer less grip in warm and dry conditions compared to summer tyres. They also wear more quickly in warmer conditions.

5. Can I fit two winter tyres on the driving wheels and summer tyres on the others?

No. If you are having them fitted, they must be fitted to all four wheels. Mixing tyres will compromise performance and safety.

Should I reduce my driving speeds in inclement conditions, as with chains?

Chains are restricted to no more than 30mph (50km/h) and should only be used in extreme conditions of snow and ice. With winter tyres there aren't speed restrictions, but motorists should adjust their speed to suit the road and weather conditions. They provide an additional safety margin during cold and wet weather, but motorists must still adhere to posted speed limit signs. Remember to view limits as the maximum accepted speed, rather than a target to achieve!

6. If I have summer tyres fitted in the autumn and winter, would it be more difficult to keep control of the vehicle?

Yes. Seasonal tyres differ on their pliability and durability in different temperatures. Driving on summer tyres in cold, icy, or snowy conditions will make controlling a vehicle more difficult compared with winter tyres because traction is compromised. We recommend tyres used during winter should have a minimum of 3mm tread for maximum safety regardless of what type of tyre you are using, but that's especially important if you are still using summer tyres.

Do they need special wheel rims?

Not necessarily. Check with your vehicle manufacturer or your car's handbook. Wheels must be the correct specification in diameter and width, in order to conform to the vehicle manufacturer's specifications but for most cars, you should simply be able to swap tyres using the existing rims. Using the wrong rims and tyres may have insurance implications.

How are winter tyres different?

They should really be called cold-weather tyres. They're made from a special rubber compound that stays flexible at low temperatures (below 7°c), and have a special tread pattern with smaller blocks and lots of small grooves (sipes) to give better grip on snow and ice as well as in wet and cold conditions.

They have a three peaks mountain and snowflake symbol on the sidewall, to show that they have met minimum performance standards in tests on snow.

Naturally, they aren't as good in hot or dry conditions as standard summer tyres and will wear more quickly, so aren't really suited to all-year-round use.

Insurance Implications

Most insurers don't ask to be told and won't increase your premium if you switch, but it's best to check with your insurer first.

Driving in Europe

You're likely to need winter tyres fitted if you plan to drive in Europe during the winter. They are compulsory in many countries for visitors as well as for residents.

Many European countries also require at least 3mm of tyre tread during the winter (4mm for Czech Republic).

For further information, please read: Driving abroad in winter

Facts

Drivers in many European countries have to keep two sets of tyres (wheels and tyres) for their cars – a winter set and a summer set – swapping them over in spring and autumn.

Perform better in temperatures lower than

Halve your braking distance on snow by as much as

33 Metres

Increase stability &
grip by up to

26%

Mobile Tyre Fitting

We stock a comprehensive range of seasonal tyres for cars, vans, performance vehicles, and 4x4s. We're mobile tyre fitting specialists, so we'll come to you at a time which suits you best and perform your free fitting.