A short guide to winter tyres

Winter tyres are not compulsory in the UK, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to get some. Winter tyres are not just made for the snow and ice, they are optimised for function in cold temperatures and wet conditions.

Do I actually need winter tyres?

If you live somewhere very wet, cold, and you see regular snowfall in the winter, it may be a good idea to consider buying winter tyres. This is even more important if you live somewhere with narrow, steep, or winding roads that can become especially slippery in adverse weather conditions.

When should I get winter tyres?

You’ll need to buy your winter tyres and get them fitted before the worst of the weather comes. If you wait too long, you may find there are none in stock, or that you can’t find a garage to get them fitted in time.

What types of winter tyres are there?

In the UK, the only legal type of winter tyre is made from a softer compound from summer tyres, and will feature a different tread pattern to help it grip in severe road conditions. Studded tyres, which are made of rubber with plastic or metal studs, are not legal for use on UK roads.

Are there any alternatives?

If you don’t want to go all out and buy winter tyres, there are a couple of alternatives.

All-season tyres are designed to provide you with high performance through all seasons. They offer great all-round performance, but they won’t be as good as normal tyres in high temperatures, or as good as specialist winter tyres in cold conditions.

If you don’t usually have much trouble with cold weather or snow where you live, you could try tyre snow socks. Tyre snow socks slip on around your tyres and can be used to get you out of a slippery spot, but can’t be used for long-term driving on the roads. They are available for around £50 a pair, so a full set won’t set you back much, and they can sit in your boot until you need them.

Though winter tyres are not an essential for everyone, they are still an option worth considering.

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