Winter tyres… Why should you change them?

  • Author: OPONEO.CO.UK

You should use winter tyres, as the rubber used in summer tyres loses its usability, i.e. flexibility and traction, in temperatures below 7°C.

When should I change my tyres?

When average temperature during the day is below 10°C and below 0°C at night. This is an optimal time to change your winter tyres, even if there is no snow yet.

Winter tyres’ tread pattern

In the latest generation of winter tyres, tread structure and manufacture are the result of computer simulations. The tyres should dig hard into the snow and quickly free themselves from it, so the winter tyre can constantly use a new, clean and maximally large patch of flexible rubber. These requirements are fulfilled by a tread with many grooves and lugs. The lugs in winter tyres have different sizes, adjustable positions, sometimes additional cuts along the edges.

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Winter tyres - tread pattern

In addition to lateral grooves, the winter tyres have longitudinal grooves used to channel slush and water from under the tyre and improve traction stability.

In winter tyres, the most popular tread patterns are directional and asymmetrical.

Directional winter tyres

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Winter tyres - directional tread

  • A chevron-shaped tread pattern.
  • Directional tyres usually have an arrow on a sidewall, indicating the rolling direction.
  • They are very efficient in channelling the slush from under the tyre, which enables the tyre to stay in constant contact with the surface.

Winter tyres with an asymmetrical tyre tread

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Winter tyres - asymmetrical tread

  • Different inner and outer parts of the tyre tread.
  • The inner side is responsible for channelling water and ensuring proper grip.
  • The outer side – for stability and grip in corners.
  • The tread area has an asymmetrical groove pattern.
  • When installing such tyres, one should pay special attention to position the outer side (marked OUTSIDE) on the right side.

Additional elements helpful in the winter

  • Tyres studded by the manufacturer. Such solutions can only be used in specific countries and regions (Scandinavia, northern Russia).
  • Snow chains. Polish regulations allow for their use in especially severe winter weather. In some places, you can encounter a C-18 road sign, i.e. mandatory use of snow chains.

NOTE! Remember that driving with snow chains is detrimental to your vehicle's stability. Moreover, chains can significantly shorten your tyres’ lifespan.

Maintenance advice

  • Winter tyres can be one size smaller than summer tyres.
  • Winter tyres can use a slightly higher pressure than their nominal value (by 0.2 - 0.3 bar).
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