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October 16, 2015Improve Driving Safety by Switching to Winter Tyres.

Treadfirst – Winter Tyres

We are big fans of winter (cold weather) tyres and have many years’ experience of using and supplying tyres that must be regarded as safety critical products.  Over the winter months we spend a great deal of time talking to customers about the merits of winter tyres.  Our opinions and reviews are based on a number of factors: personal experience, customer feedback and a balanced view of the many tyre tests that are carried out in the UK and across Europe.

Why are winter tyres better in the winter?

Due to differences in the rubber compound, winter tyres do not harden in colder temperatures (unlike summer tyres) which means increased grip, shorter braking distances, less skidding and greater safety.  They are specifically designed to operate in temperatures less than 7 degrees celsius and to cope with colder road surfaces, ice, rain and slush.  Winter tyres also have tread patterns optimised for winter grip and water displacement.

The safety benefits of winter tyres

UK drivers are up to six times more likely to be involved in an accident between October and March than during the rest of the year.  This is due to the reduced daylight as much as to the inclement weather.
Having winter tyres fitted to your vehicle significantly reduces braking distances.  Tests demonstrate that a typical family car braking from a speed of 30mph on a snow covered road came to a standstill after 35 metres, compared to braking in normal tyres after 43 metres – the difference is the equivalent of two car lengths.  Being a competent driver does not, unfortunately, guarantee that you will not be involved in an accident situation and any reduction in braking distance greatly improves your chances of avoiding a collision.

Using winter tyres

The following are some of our top tips for winter tyre use and winter driving:

When to fit winter tyres?

It’s important not to 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 winter tyres when the average temperature falls below this level.  In the UK we 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.

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.

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 an ‘H’ speed rating which are capable of 136 mph, which we’re sure is fine for most drivers!  We have not encountered any insurance implications as the vehicle manufacturers offer the same reduction in speed ratings on their O.E. offerings (Original Equipment).  The list of Insurers on the Association of British Insurers website ( listed one Insurer that asked to be advised if winter tyres were fitted (Southern Rock insurance)*.  We are confident that most insurers would be delighted that you are making your vehicle safer and reducing the risk of accident.

When to replace winter tyres

Winter tyres with less than 3mm of tread remaining can no longer guarantee optimal performance on snow and ice so 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 and Austria for example).

Winter run-flat tyres

Some winter tyre manufacturers also offer winter run-flat tyres; these offer the additional safety of not losing shape when a loss of pressure occurs.


At Treadfirst we offer our winter tyre Customers Free of Charge (Tyre Hotel) storage for their summer and winter tyres.

Stack of Tyres

* Correct at November 2015. Source ABI – Winter Tyres – The Motor Insurance Commitment

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