When the days get shorter and the weather starts to turn for the worst, many drivers start considering when to change tyre models. With the British winter looming, now is the right time to prepare your winter tyres.
Yet, when exactly is the right time to have winter tyres fitted? Just like understanding when to switch to summer tyres, knowing when to replace tyres with winter/snow products is just as essential. Too early or too late can mean driving in conditions that your car is not correctly fitted to cope with.
What Is the difference between winter and summer tyres?
The biggest difference between winter and summer tyres is in the rubber compounds chosen during tyre construction. The compounds for winter tyres, for example, are designed to operate in temperatures below 7°C. Any higher than this and their parameters start to deteriorate as the tyre warms up too much, leading to increased wear.
When to put winter tyres on? Wait until the temperature drops below 7°C
Summer tyres, on the other hand, work best above 7°C.due to their own compound. When it is too cold, these tyres will harden and, just like winter tyres, there will be a deterioration in their quality and driving properties.
In short, this often means summer or winter tyres can only be used in their respective seasons. This is why you cannot use winter tyres all year around and it also why you cannot use summer tyres in winter.
What should i pay attention to before fitting winter tyres?
Before you have winter tyres fitted, you should take a note of the quality of the tyres. Specifically, you should pay special attention to the tread depth. While the legal minimum depth in the UK is 1.6 mm, we recommend ensuring winter tyres have 4 mm or more. This helps ensure some of the most vital properties, such as grip, braking distances and protection from aquaplaning. Part worn winter tyres can often still be used, as long as there is sufficient tread left to wear down.
Similarly, you should also check that neither the treads or sidewalls are not cracked or damaged. Any damage here can get worse on the roads, so don’t fit weakened or damaged tyres to your car.
Check your existing winter tyres before fitting them to the car
Likewise, if you store tyres in a garage, you should have them balanced as well. If they are not balanced correctly, this could have a negative influence on the car’s suspension system, which could result in sideways movements, as well as causing uneven wear across the tyre set.
Finally, when it comes to these checks, make sure to check the tyre pressure. Tyres can lose pressure naturally, so they will not be at the same level as they were last year. Of course, adjusting the pressure here will also highlight any leaks that might have gone unnoticed.
When to switch from summer to winter tyres?
With all that in mind, when is the best time to change tyre? Ideally, winter tyres should be fitted when the average 24-hour temperature drops below 7°C. Because of this, there is often no specific date, as the weather in the UK can often fluctuate throughout Autumn.
Many drivers change tyres to winter products wants the weather drops below 7°C on a consistent basis.
However, you should wait until the temperature has been low enough for a few days in a row, to ensure you are not just fitting the tyres early due to a quick, temporary drop. If you’re looking for when to replace tyre, it is when the temperature drops consistently. This will ensure the most safety on the road, rather than fitting a winter tyre when a summer tyre is still more suitable.
All weather tyres or winter tyres?
While many drivers will happily buy winter tyres, there are motorists who ask are winter tyres worth it? When it comes to Great Britain, winter tyre UK law does not force owners to use dedicated winter products, so many people often wonder if good winter tyres are necessarily better than all-season tyres.
All-season tyres are best used in city environments. This is because, ultimately, they are a compromise between summer and winter conditions. The compounds used, for example, are designed to work both above and below 7°C, yet they lack some of the more specialised parameters that winter tyres have, such as grip, water expulsion and braking in wet conditions. They are best used in city conditions, consequently, because these roads are usually well maintained and don’t require specific snow tyres.
All-season tyres are better in city environments, where the roads are well-maintained and often free of snow.
Similarly, some drivers wonder if you should only fit snow tyres on front wheels only but this, again, is not recommended. Both axles, regardless of which ones are steering or driving the vehicle, should have the same parameters. Having tyres on one axle that aren’t designed for the weather conditions you are facing will greatly reduce the car’s performance.