If you are moving to an area where the winters are harsh and snow is a regular feature, you might be wondering whether you should ask your mechanic to fit winter tyres to your car. But are winter tyres really necessary? What are their benefits? Read on for more information.
What's the Point of Winter Tyres?
Winter tyres are specially designed to stay supple and pliant in very cold temperatures and to provide maximum traction when you're driving on snow and ice.
Winter tyres are made using a compound that contains more natural rubber than in ordinary tyres. Their surface is covered with sipes—tiny jagged slits designed to improve the tyre's road-holding capabilities, and the tread pattern is considerably deeper than that of conventional ones.
Clearly, if you are likely to be driving on roads that are snowy and icy, winter tyres are an essential addition to your vehicle. You will ideally need to have a second set of rims fitted to your wheels on which to place the winter tyres. The best choice is steel rims, which don't corrode when exposed to winter salt and grit and are cheap to repair if you collide with a kerb.
Always make sure that you have a winter spare with you; your car's handling will be badly compromised if you have to drive with three winter tyres and one conventional one.
You can't leave your winter tyres on all year round. You'll need to have them fitted for the winter season and stored somewhere dry and rodent-proof during the off-season. Have the tyres fitted before the weather turns rather than leaving the job too late and getting caught out.
What Are the Alternatives?
If you don't want the hassle of having to change your tyres, you could opt for all-season tyres, which can be left on your car all year. Just bear in mind that if you go for this option, these tyres won't perform as well as winter tyres in very cold conditions.
Another quick fix to get you off a snowy driveway or down a road that is un-gritted is tyre socks. Tyre socks are fabric covers that wrap around the tyres to provide extra grip on ice and snow.
It's also worth bearing in mind that some insurance companies will treat winter tyres as a modification, and this could hike up your insurance premiums.
If you are moving to an area where the winters are cold and snowy, you may want to consider having winter tyres fitted to your car. Have a chat with your mechanic for more advice and to explore what options are available to you.