So, you're ready to buy some winter tyres for your car. Congratulations. If you live in a region where the temperature falls below 7 degrees each season, it is a very sensible decision to ensure safety for yourself and other users on the road. Winter tyres have unique attributes that mitigate the risks of snow, ice, and falling temperatures on the road, providing motorists with greater control behind the wheel.
Now that you've decided to move forward, let's conduct a bit of research. When investing in a set of winter tyres, for example, you must put them on all four wheel positions of your car. It will maximise handling of the vehicle and mitigate the risk of losing traction on either the rear or front axle when driving on slippery roads. Do not mix summer tyres and winter tyres on passenger cars.
Here are some more useful things to consider before you choose a new set of winter tyres.
Why winter tyres are more effective when it gets colder
The defining characteristics of a good winter tyre are the tread pattern, the sipes, and the tyre compound. When the weather starts to get cold, and there's ice on the roads, these tyres are ready to tackle the elements.
Winter tyres have a dedicated tread pattern to provide superior traction on snowy, wet, and icy roads. The rotation of the wheel will push the snow into the broader grooves and generate additional traction. The tread also features sipes – tiny little slots – that provide additional traction by enabling the tread blocks to flex and dig deeper into the snow or ice.
Finally, the tyre compound has a higher percentage of natural rubber, so it remains soft and flexible in cold temperatures. If the tyre compound isn't designed to perform in winter conditions – as is the case in a summer tyre – it will go hard and brittle. That, in turn, leads to a substantial decline in traction and grip.
Winter tyre sidewall markings
You can identify winter tyres by one of two symbols on the sidewall. Both the M+S symbol and the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol are industry standards. If neither one of these symbols is displayed, the tyres are not suitable for use in winter.