Using winter tyres

Using winter tyres

The following is some of my top tips for winter tyre use and winter driving:

When to fit winter tyres?

It’s important not to just wait for the really harsh weather to strike, winter tyres offer superior performance when the temperatures are below 7 degrees Celsius. It is time to swap over to winters when the average temperature falls below this level, in the UK we often advise fitting late September through to March/April. An easy rule to remember is that you should be using winter tyres when there is an ‘r’ in the name of the month.

How to store summer tyres?

If storing tyres on rims then it’s advisable to clean and dry first, they can then be either hung or laid down flat. Four wheels can be stacked on top of each other, just raise the pressure to 40psi and ensure that they are stored in a dry area, out of direct sunlight. If storing tyres only then the same applies and following these practices will allow you to reuse the set for a number of seasons. Remember to mark the wheel position that the tyre came from so that they can refitted to the same corner of the car. Also wheel & tyre storage bags are worth considering, good quality ones are designed to denote the position the tyre came from in addition to keeping your car clean if you need to transport them.

Don’t have the room to do this? My retail business, Tyremen now offers a tyre hotel for seasonal wheel & tyre storage. Previously I had spoken with many people that wanted to switch tyres but storage space was an issue, with this new service anyone can now benefit from the benefit of winter tyre safety.

Can I fit just 2 winter tyres?

Please don’t! Winter tyres enhance your safety through improved traction at low temperatures. If only 2 tyres are offering this improved performance then you tend to find that the vehicle will suffer from a lack of stability, especially when cornering or braking. This video demonstrates this rather nicely.

What pressures do I need to run them at?

It is not necessary to inflate winter tyres differently than you would summer tyres. It is important to check your tyre pressures every two weeks, and to do so while the tyres are cold.

Do I still need snow chains?

Having winter tyres fitted generally makes the need for snow chains unnecessary, however in certain parts of Europe (particularly in the Alps during heavy snowfall) they can be mandated by signs. You therefore should carry them if you are going to such an area to ensure that you can complete your journey. Just ensure that you take them off as soon as possible in order to enjoy much smoother driving.

Driving with a lower speed code

Winter tyres (carrying a mountain & snowflake symbol) can be used with a lower speed code. It is in fact common practice to go for a lower speed rated tyre in the winter. As long as you do not drive over the speed that the tyre is capable you will not have any problems. Many winter tyres for small family cars are produced with a h speed rating which are capable of 136 mph, which I’m sure is fine for most drivers. There is no insurance implication with this either as the vehicle manufacturers offer the same reduction in speed ratings on their O.E offerings.

Other winter car equipment

It is important to prepare your entire car for bad weather conditions. This obviously includes fitting winter tyres, but also checking up on the battery, oil and coolant levels, as well as the spare wheel pressure. If you are driving on the continent then certain countries regulations also stipulate that high visibility safety vests must be carried in addition to warning triangles.

When to replace winter tyres

Winter tyres with less than 3mm of tread remaining can no longer guarantee optimal performance on snow and ice. We advise you not to re-use such tyres for the next winter season. In certain European countries, tyres are no longer considered winter tyres if their tread has become less than 4mm, bear this in mind when driving in countries where winter tyres are compulsory (Scandinavian countries, Germany & Austria).

Winter runflat tyres

Some winter tyre manufacturers now also offer winter runflat tyres, although quite expensive these do offer the additional safety of not losing shape when a loss of pressure occurs. Many drivers decide to move away from runflats for winter, especially when purchasing wheel and tyre packages. If you would do this then you need to carry a repair solution in case you get a puncture and have no spare wheel. If you currently use runflats and are considering changing to regular tyres then all 4 tyres on the vehicle must be changed.

Where to buy winter tyres?

Well as you may well have seen I’m a director at Tyremen in Hull and I think we are a great option when you are looking for a winter tyre supplier. You will find that many High Street tyre retailers will not bother stocking such products, yet we bring in thousands every year so we can offer competitive prices, good availability and a range of tyre brands. Failing that then I’d just avoid many of the overseas suppliers (don’t be fooled by a domain) as if things don’t work out as planned then you may find their ability to help rather limited. Jungle Tyres are UK based and appear to offer very cheap winter tyres.

All you'll ever need to know about winter tyres