Nov 2011: Which? Has its Say in the British Winter Tyre Debate
It is that time of the year again, when British motorists are faced with the eternal dilemma - “to fit or not to fit”. Before you have a fit, we will reveal that we are talking about winter tyres.
The Winter Tyres Promotion
Towards the end of October, just as the mercury begins dipping, tyre manufacturers go all out, promoting winter tyres. It is the best time to make the change as it enables you to get set and face the tough challenges of driving in winter.
Many motorists are undecided about whether it is worth the efforts and the investment to switch over to winter tyres. A recent survey revealed that as many as 90% of British motorists are disinclined towards switching to winter tyres. Which? senior car analysts took a look at the this debate and put forth their views on the issue.
According to senior Which? car researcher, Dave Evans, the benefits of switching to winter tyres are many and cannot be overlooked. Which? has conducted independent tests on the performance of winter tyres vs. summer tyres and the results have revealed that winter tyres are indeed helpful in tackling the adverse winter weather conditions.
According to Mr. Evans, Which? test results corroborate tyre manufacturers’ claims that winter tyres offer better grip at temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius. The sludge and snow combine to make roads slippery and wet during winter. Winter tyres which are designed with deeper tread grooves work better in dispersing water at the surface level.
Thus winter tyres grip better, reducing the incidences of accidents due to skidding. Also winter tyres can work through snow conditions better than summer tyres, so neither do you get stuck at home unable to move out, nor are there chances of getting stranded at some place due to inclement weather.
Urban Vs Rural Areas
The winter in rural area is always more severe than in the cities. For rural motorists, the threat of getting stranded due to bad weather is very real and can occur as the weather turns very quickly from mildly snowing to a blizzard.
Which? recommends that winter tyres with their obvious advantages of enhanced performance should definitely be used by rural motorists. The question that arises however is this – what of the urban motorist and his vehicle? In general urban winters tend to be damp and mild. So is there a need to go through the trouble and expense of fitting winter tyres?
Also it is necessary to remember that once you have fitted winter tyres in late October or November, it is important to change back to summer tyres in March because the winter tyres demonstrate inferior grip during the warmer weather conditions. So essentially, you would be changing tyres twice a year. Big question – do you need to?
Which? Has the Final Word
According to Mr. Evans, the upfront costs for switching the tyres may seem a little on the higher side. But it is to be looked on as an investment for your own safety and that of your family, he opines. Moreover considering there have been three spells of extremely cold weather in the last two winters in UK, it is recommended to switch to winter tyres sooner rather than later.