Winter Tyres – All you need to know image

As vehicle design and technology has advanced over the years – tyres have done the same to cope with heavier faster cars with more advanced braking systems. New vehicle concepts, combined with tyres ideally adapted to requirements, have made driving noticeably safer today.

Inautonews presents you a list of FAQ about winter tyres; all you need to know about them, why and when you need to use them.

Winter – The Effects

The winter season can bring many variations in weather type:

  • Drivers are 5 times more likely to skid on snow/icy road conditions than they are on dry roads.
  • The number of accidents caused by wet road conditions increases in winter by 267%
  • 31% of people have had a particularly bad experience whilst driving due to winter weather conditions.
  • 60% of people feel scared or uneasy when driving in winter conditions.
  • 36% of people have found themselves stuck on a journey due to winter conditions. Yet 65% of people spend less than £200 on preparing their car for winter driving.
  • 75% of people would not consider fitting winter tyres – (UK)

What is the difference between winter tyres, and normal tyres?
Snow tyres (also known as winter tires) have tread patterns specifically designed to dig down and bite into snow and ice, plus they are made from softer rubber compounds that retain their flexibility in cold weather, allowing the tire to better conform to the surface of the road.Special winter tires are designed to throw the snow away and keep the surface clean on the whole depth of the tread, thus maintaining traction and handling.


Additionally, they have tougher bead construction to resist to multiple mounting and dismounting operations which usually take place before the beginning of the cold season.

How much do they cost?
Typically, they’re 5-15% dearer than a regular set of tyres from a quality brand. Makers justify this by saying they contain more natural rubber and for that reason cost more to make.

Do they wear faster than regular tyres?
No. They actually wear a little more slowly.

When should they be fitted?
Winter tyres aren’t just for snow, they can be used on slush, ice, frost and even wet roads. In fact any time the temperature dips below +7deg you’re better off on winter tyres. Apparently.

Is it enough in winter just to drive more slowly?
Below 7°C you would stop 11 meters sooner than with summer tyres (when braking on an icy road from just 20mph). That is 4.8 meters shorter in wet conditions from 60mph.


Do winter tyres wear out quickly?
Winter tyres last as long as summer tyres and perform better in winter conditions. Depending on your mileage, they may last for 2 or 3 winters and so save on the wear on your summer tyres – postponing their replacement. How about in summer? Snow tires tend to be noisier, plus the softer compounds from which they are made means they will wear out faster, especially in warm weather. Our advice: as soon as the snow is gone for good, remove your snow tires and reinstall your regular tires.

Winter tyres are as comfortable as summer tyres?
It depends. The truth is modern winter tyres are as every bit as comfortable as summer tyres, sometimes more so thanks to an increased profile.

Two Tires or Four?
We recommend putting four winter tires on your vehicle,, even if your vehicle is two-wheel drive. The car may skid or have less control if only one axle pair is fitted. Plus you will stop quicker if you have four snow tires.

Comparison of temperature dependent braking distance


My car has all-season tires. Aren’t those good enough?
Short answer:
Not really, no.
Long answer: All-season (also known as all-weather) tires are designed to cope with all sorts of conditions, including dry roads and rain, but are not optimized for any one condition.

Legal requirement?
The use of winter tyres is not mandatory in France.

Switzerland: Winter tyres are mandatory in Swiss between 1st November and 15th April for vehicles not using snow chains.

Austria: Winter tyres are mandatory in Austria.

Italy: Yes and No. It depends by region. For ex in From 15th October to 15th April vehicles must be equipped with winter tyres or snow chains in the Val d’Aosta area.

Finland: In Finland winter tyres are compulsory from 1st December to the end of Februarycz-c15a_zimni_vybava

Latvia: Winter tyres are compulsory from 1st December until 1st March

Norway: Winter tyres are not compulsory,however snow chains are as dictated by local road signs
Sweden: Winter tyres which must be marked M&S are compulsory from December 1st until March 31st with a minimum tread depth of 3mm.

Slovenia: Snow chains must be carried from November 15th until March 15th

Germany: Motorists are obliged to use snow tires

UK: Although there is no legal requirement to use winter tyres, drivers in the United Kingdom are encouraged to use them by motoring organisations such as the AA, following the adverse winter weather conditions of 2010

FOR US and Canada please read here


For peace of mind on your journey, make routine checks on your tyres.
Every 4 weeks check the pressure of your tyres when they are cold.

Check the tread depth of your tyres – the minimum legal UK tread depth is 1.6mm across the central 3/4 of the tyre, however we recommend that tyres are replaced before reaching this minimum level.As your tread depth decreases, your stopping distance in wet weather increases.Check your tyres for damage. Look out for any cuts, cracks or bulges as these can lead to slow punctures and blow-outs.Don’t forget to check the tread depth and air pressure of your spare tyre.

P.S – Drive safe.