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Knowledge Base

Winter Tyres

While growing in popularity, winter tyres are not as commonly used in the UK as they are in other countries around the world. There are many reasons for this, including harsher climates, legal regulations, availability and storage as well as many others. There are huge advantages to using winter tyres during the colder months but there is currently reluctance from many to adopt winter tyres, because of a perception of a lack of necessity.

Despite the increasing number of options of winter tyres available to drivers, there are still obstacles to overcome here that can be solved by looking at what other European countries do, especially where it is legally required to have winter tyres. For all the information you need to know about winter tyres, look no further than this guide from Easy Wheels.

Choosing the right tyres

No matter how long you have been driving for, it's impossible not to notice how changeable the British weather can be ? even in the summer months! This can make driving much harder because of trickier conditions and hazards from yourself and other drivers. It's not the easiest thing to change the tyres on your own each time the weather changes ? nor is it practical ? but each type is built for different climates and conditions to ensure they have as long a life as possible while being the safest option.

With three main categories of tyres available, it's important to know which is the best one for you and why ? that's why they are listed here:

Winter Tyres

These tyres are designed for use in the cold and wet conditions that are common in the winter months.

They use a different rubber compound to ensure there is plenty of tyre connecting to the road in these tricky conditions to provide maximum grip and control.

These tyres have deeper treads to accommodate heavier rain and more standing water, which prove to be harder to drive in than the dry. Even if it's a dry day, they are a good tyre to use in colder environments because of the different makeup.

Summer Tyres

These are the standard tyres used in Britain by many drivers throughout the year. They operate best in warmer conditions and can accommodate a good amount of standing water and rain.

Many drivers consider driving slower to be a safe alternative to using winter tyres as it saves them the money and perceived hassle of buying a new set. However, these tyres wear out quicker in the colder weather and slower driving does not replicate the effects winter tyres give a vehicle.

'All year' Tyres

This category is often seen as a compromise, and is what a large number of drivers currently use. They are the perfect balance of summer and winter weather tyres for use throughout the year and with good treads for heavy and standing rain.

As a result, they are not as effective in any conditions as the alternative tyre choices but they do let drivers make savings on tyres and storage without the perceived hassle of changing tyres twice a year.

The tyre life is good but will not last as long as two sets used in each of their optimum weather climates, which must also be considered.

Performing regular tyre checks

Tyre checks are an essential part of car maintenance and should be done on a regular basis. This allows you to spot problems early and find solutions quickly to restore optimum efficiency, which will help with fuel consumption and handling in almost every case. Since your tyres are the only parts of the vehicle that connect you to the road, they should be in the best condition at all times and suitable for the journey you are about to make. This means you need to consider the weather climate and environment in which you'll be driving.

There are three main checks to perform on your tyres which you should do regularly, before and after a long journey as well after significantly changing the weight carried in your vehicle. These checks are:

Air pressure

The air pressure in your tyres is very important, as it can affect how much of the tyre is making contact with the road ? which determines how the grip and handling of your car.

You can have this done by a professional at one of our garages or at service stops. There are also devices available relatively cheap that let you do it yourself. Checking the manuals and guides for your vehicle and tyres will tell you what to look for and the optimum tyre pressure for your vehicle.

Any problems can sometimes be solved by you then and there but others may require qualified assistance, but checking before and after long journeys, and when the weight of the car is changed will allow you to keep on top of everything before issues arise. (You should also check your tyre pressures when cold, i.e. not immediately after a journey).

Dry handling

With 25% of accidents happening on bends and a 70% of total accidents taking place in dry conditions its important to consider a tyres performance and handling features in dry weather and on winding roads.

You can use the reviews on our site or around the web to find this information out.

Tread depth

The tread is important on any tyre, as it helps deal with falling and standing water. There are measuring tools available to help you measure the tread of each tyre, with some tyres having a built in mark to help you further.

Winter tyres have deeper treads that deal with water, snow and ice better than summer tyres. The deeper these treads, the better the effects and these wear out over time and if used in the wrong conditions.

The minimum tread depth in the UK, and most EU countries, is 1.6mm but the deeper the better and some manufacturers advise no less than 3mm for the best results before changing tyres.


While checking the air pressure and tread depth on each of your tyres, it can be very beneficial to check the surface and sides of the tyre for problems that need to be addressed.

These can cause big problems later on, and at worst, these will occur during a journey and leave you stranded. Any weaknesses in the rubber, bulges or other unnatural issues should be checked with a qualified professional as soon as possible to make sure you have the best journey possible at all times.

Safety considerations

Winter tyres are designed for different conditions than their summer counterparts ? that much is clear from the name. The softer compounds and deeper treads make winter tyres good for cold weather when it is wet or dry as they give you, the driver, more control of the vehicle, especially in a situation where you need to brake or take evasive action. You will also want to get as much life out of your tyre as possible, to stop you spending on new sets when you don't need too. Using the right tyres in the right environment will help with this.

There are three big safety concerns when it comes to winter tyres, and these are:

Weather conditions

In the cold, the rain, the snow and ice, winter tyres are going to hold up better thanks to their deeper treads and different rubber compound. Heavy rain is more commonly found in winter weather, but not always, and that's why even summer tyres have treads to account for this.

To get the extra grip and stability in cold and wet weather, there is no better choice than winter tyres, and when used correctly with good driving habits in the right conditions, they will last a long time and give you more confidence when driving ? although they do typically have lower speed ratings, they are usually much higher than most speed limits and as such wont prove a problem for U.K users.

Braking distance

There are comparable braking distances in different conditions using different tyres. Summer tyres used in winter will result in a longer braking distance than the use of winter tyres in the same conditions, and vice versa.

This makes them an appealing prospect, as trickier conditions can lead to more accidents, so everything that can be done to improve safety should be considered.

The use of 'all year' tyres will provide a middle ground for this as the compound is a balance of the two categories but you will still have a longer braking distance in cold conditions than on a winter tyre.

Tyre lifespan

With different rubber compounds being used on each of the three tyre categories, they are suited for different conditions. Knowing which conditions to use each kind of tyre in is important, but it can create problems if you have to change them on a regular basis.

Each tyre has been designed with this in mind. Using a winter tyre in dry conditions will not cause them to wear out any faster providing the average temperature is around or below seven degrees, which is the conditions they were designed for.

They really do come in to their own providing better grip in wet and icy conditions too, but by using them in dry colder conditions, their lifespan will still be just as long and they will still provide significant enhance performance.

Preparing for winter

When the winter months start to roll in, bringing with them colder weather, heavier rain, snow, ice and fog, it may be time to consider making the switch from your summer tyres to the winter options. If you have the means to do this yourself, properly, then that's an option but a garage or professional will do this too ? in some cases, they will store your other set and remind you when it's time to switch back. Something at Easywheels we offer.

Please call us on 0333 9000 201 to discuss this.

In Britain, the weather is fickle, and even in what we would normally consider the colder months, we can have nice weather but don't worry, your tyres will survive as the average temperature will still be lower, and that is what winter tyres have been designed for.

Other European countries

In some European countries, usually those with colder and harsher weather climates and winters, it has become law to switch to winter tyres when the weather gets colder. This is because of the safety benefits and greater control given to the driver throughout this part of the year with these tyres.

While this hasn't been adopted in the UK yet, there are discussions about whether this should happen, but setting up the necessary facilities for storage and ensuring the supply of winter and summer tyres need are available is no simple task.

The cost is also a factor, as people would have to buy new tyres, whether they could afford to or not.

Switching tyres

In some countries, it is common practise to have two sets of tyres ? one summer set and one winter set. This means that drivers will get the most out of there tyres every time by using them in the most suitable climates throughout the year.

While space is an issue for storage, many countries have places to store the tyres for six months until it is time to switch. This is an extra cost but relatively cheap and the return received from the extended tyre life makes up for it.

Some services offer this in the UK but until winter tyres are adopted by everyone, or enforced for everyone, this will not likely be a widely used service except in highly populated areas. (Some Easy Wheels fitting stations offer this service- please call us on 0333 9000 201 to discuss this).

The overall cost

Like many new products and innovations, winter tyres were more expensive than their summer and 'all year' counterparts but as they have grown in popularity and use, the price has start to come down to match their summer counterparts. Whilst the big brands still charge a premium, there are a number of mid range and budget winter tyre options available as you can see below.

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