What is on your winter ‘to-do’ list? Perhaps some woolly socks or gloves, heating oil, or logs for the fire?
For a growing number of people, winter tyres are now one of those seasonal ‘must-haves’, and it is easy to see why they are growing in popularity. Here are a few things to bear in mind.
How do winter tyres work? Beneath 7C the rubber in an ordinary tyre begins to harden, resulting in less grip. The rubber in a winter tyre will not harden, no matter how low the mercury drops. So even without snow, winter tyres will give you much better grip through the dark winter months.
They tyres also have lots of little slits in them, called sipes. The large number of edges makes the tyre surface very flexible, which increases traction.
Do they make a difference? Yes. You are six times more likely to have an accident in winter months, and having the right tyres can make you much safer. For example, Continental claim that in icy conditions their winter tyres will stop 11 metres sooner than their summer range. That is the same length as an Ulsterbus!
They can also get you to your destination - from a steep hill to an ungritted country road, you have much more chance of getting to work (or getting home again). For those in rural areas, or the self-employed, this is more than just convenience.
There are lots of videos on YouTube showing the difference winter tyres can make. In many countries, such as Germany and Sweden, winter tyres are actually a legal requirement. A can bne can be imposed if a motorist is caught without winter tyres after a certain date.
Are there any disadvantages? Winter tyres tend to be slightly more expensive, perhaps £10 extra per tyre. They will also wear more quickly in warm weather, so it is economical to change back again in spring time. If you are squeezed for room, there is also the question of storage. While we offer storage as complimentary, some larger chains charge a hefty fee for their tyre hotels.
Andrew works in Clarke’s Tyres, 71 Pound Street, Larne. Tel. 02828260056.