Dispelling the ‘Winter Tyres’ myths

Kumho Winter Craft WP51 tyre

Contrary to popular opinion, ‘Winter Tyres’ are not just for better traction in snowy conditions, a factor that motoring journalist, Iain Robertson, is keen to support, having used various brands over the past 25 years on his own car.

A common misconception surrounds the fitting of what have become known as ‘Winter Tyres’ for the colder period of British weather that runs generally from the end of November to the end of the following February. The precursor is temperature dependence and it is suggested that, as soon as the thermometer drops to below 7degreesC, the alternative tyres become relevant.

While this is fine notionally, I prefer to use a more arbitrary 10degreesC as the marker-point, mainly because an air temperature reading of that order can still mean that a road surface temperature can hover between a frosty 2-8degreesC, at which level the more compliant rubber compounds present in ‘Winter Tyres’ are significantly more effective than for ‘Summer Tyres’. It is true that the tread patterns used are designed to clear impacted snow from within the tread blocks but snow is not the issue…much like our typically snow-free winters.

The enhanced grip provided by tyres that work more purposefully in lower temperature ranges is of key safety benefit, not just when taking corners but also under heavy braking and when pulling away from junctions. The ‘secret’ lies in the greater flexibility of the tread blocks, whereas ‘Summer Tyres’ tend to harden and become less grip-effective below 10degreesC. Driving, as I do, all over Great Britain, I have been grateful on many occasions for the shorter stopping distances and enhanced handling conveyed by ‘Winter Tyres’.

Naturally, cost is an issue. However, the prices of ‘Winter Tyres’ have decreased to very competitive levels, with more tyre manufacturers supplying them to UK distributors, such as Mr Clutch and average rates are around £50 per tyre. Wear rates are also an issue. However, when your car is wearing ‘Winter Tyres’, the summer alternatives are not wearing down at all and it is feasible to enjoy up to six winter periods and even longer, with light usage, on ‘Winter Tyres’, even if you replace your vehicle more frequently (as long as the tyre size is the same, of course).

If tyre brand is an issue, I have used Vredestein, Michelin, Goodyear, Nokian and Pirelli ‘Winter Tyres’ in previous years, although my present car is running on Kumho Wintercraft WP51s and I can declare that they are not only quiet in use but they do not effect my car’s fuel economy and are ‘grippy’ in all the right circumstances. As all Mr Clutch centres receive tyre deliveries twice a day from their distributor, a speedy service results.

Being safe during the winter months, for the sakes of you, your passengers and other road users, is a priority that none of us can afford to ignore. The benefits of using ‘Winter Tyres’, while not a legal requirement in our country, are numerous and driving on snow is not the only one. Mr Clutch exists to provide unerring support of its customers and driving safety is central to its range of services. Do think about that, if not for this winter, then certainly for the next one. Just ask about them next time you visit a Mr Clutch centre, as a full range of support services is in place to ensure that you obtain the best deal.