Winter Tyres explained and when to buy them
Looking for winter tyres but not sure what they are? CompareTyres has it covered in our guide. Read on to find out if you should buy some, where, and the best time of year. If you're looking to save money then why not run a quick price comparison and see how much you'll save by shopping around?
What exactly are winter tyres?
Quite simply, they're tyres for the sort of weather that we tend to get in the UK during winter - that doesn't specifically just mean snow, it can also mean ice, rain and wind. It's a common misconception among Brits that winter tyres are "snow tyres" - but these are easily confused with snow chains, something completely different altogether.
Put simply, the main difference between All season / Summer tyres and winter tyres is: the tread depth. A winter tyre's depth starts at between 8 and 9mm, as opposed to 7 and 8mm on a regular tyre.
The little indents and markings on the winter tyre itself are wider and deeper as well, forming a larger channel for snow, ice and water to travel through - which translates to a better all round grip on the road surface. The actual rubber used to make winter tyres will also have a a larger percentage of natural rubber and silica in it - meaning a tougher result (although it doesn't actually harden as much as summer tyres, giving an improved grip).
Are Winter tyres a con?
Continental has researched this, and claims that a car fitted with winter tyres will come to a stop on a snow-covered road (at a speed of just 30mph) after 35 metres (115ft).
With normal summer tyres however, the braking distance required is a further 8 metres (43 metres in total!) - or, to put it another way, that's another 2x Ford Fiesta lengths! So the differences between winter and summer tyres are clear - but what about the price differences?
Are winter tyres worth buying in the UK? Aren't they just for Sweden?
Winter tyres aren't much more expensive and they are highly effective in temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius, which is quite common in UK winters - particularly if you live up north. It's true that they're popular in Scandinavia but many Brits also buy a pair and keep them in the garage - they'll last for a few years with normal/average usage.
Don't forget that it can get as low as -15°C in the UK quite easily at night in the depths of winter.
Okay, so when should I buy them?
Winter tyres are available to purchase all year round, although you may (predictably!) see a surge in demand as the temperature drops in the autumn / winter. The more savvy folk will be looking to pick up a bargain in the spring when demand for winter tyres drops and stockists will be wanting to shift old stock - luckily for them, CompareTyres price-checks winter tyres year-round.
4 Steps to buying winter tyres:
- Buy winter tyres in SPRING. It'll be cheaper.
- Shop around and do a tyre comparison price-check.
- Select your fitting date
- Or go to your local garage. We will arrange it all - free!
TIP: If the UK has a frightfully bad winter, then expect demand easily to outstrip supply, so those looking to buy will struggle to find a set of new tyres for their vehicle. Therefore in short: if you can afford to buy some in autumn then do so, but for the biggest savings it's best to wait until the worst of winter is over... as the snow melts, the prices drop.