Changing your tyres for winter

Switching to winter tyres could be worthwhile this winter, so what should you consider when making a purchase?

If you are intending to drive a lot this winter it is well worth changing your tyres ready for when the weather is at its worst.

This winter is set to be the harshest since 1947, so it is likely the roads will be much icier and covered with snow for a longer period of time. It is advised that most people do not travel during particularly icy conditions, however for many this is not an option.

As a result, the chances of having an accident on the roads could be heightened. Yet the Department of Transport predicts that there could be 5,000 fewer collisions if people choose to switch from standard tyres to winter tyres.

It is not compulsory to switch to winter tyres when the weather gets cold in the UK, as it is in countries such as Sweden and Norway, but it could stop you either from skidding and having an accident or getting stuck in the snow.

If you are living in a remote area, it is especially likely that the cold weather could be prolonged and result in you getting stuck for longer.

Why winter tyres?

The difference that winter tyres can make to the traction your car has on the road can be considerable.

What separates winter tyres from standard tyres is that they maintain traction on the roads far better and can give good performance when braking on ice or during wet conditions.

The reason for this is that they have a different tread pattern and are made of a different rubber compound to normal tyres, which allows them to maintain their flexibility when temperatures fall below 7 degrees C.

Should you decide to change your tyres then be aware that it can be a costly process, though one that is worthwhile in a winter such as this.

Make sure that you shop around carefully for the right winter tyres as there are plenty on the market, with most of the main manufacturers supplying them.

Bridgestone Blizzaks

These tyres have been around for a long time and have a reputation among many for being the best on the market during snowy conditions.

Indeed, a test by found that the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60's traction during icy or snowy conditions was good. Using these tyres on a 2012 BMW F30 328i Sedan, the team were able to go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.972 seconds and its stopping distance was 33 feet from 12 mph.

In wet conditions, performance was not as good as it took 136.3 feet to stop from 50 mph while this was reduced to 94.2 when it was dry.

Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 appeared to be more fond of these tyres, saying that they delivered a more balanced performance compared to all other tyre brands tested (which included Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D and Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3).

On ice, these tyres were able to go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.94 seconds while its stopping distance was 32.3 feet from 12 mph.

Meanwhile, handling proved to be particularly good during situations where steering would typically be light.

Additionally, stopping distance from 50 mph during wet conditions covered 105.4 feet, which dropped to 88.8 feet when it was dry.

Fitting winter tyres

When purchasing winter tyres, it is important that you do get a set of four as one having one pair put on could negatively affect the balance and stability of your vehicle.

To ensure that your winter tyres give the best performance, check that the pressure is correct. It should not be reduced during winter months as this can reduce traction. Additionally, ensure that tread depth is no less than 3mm, which should not be the case any way if you buy your tyres new.

If you do not have much experience with changing tyres yourself, make sure you pay for a trusted expert to do it for you.


  • On: 17 December 2013
  • By: CarShop

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