When it comes to driving, British motorists just don’t do winter tyres. They’re not ingrained in our culture. On the whole, we don’t know what they are, let alone why they’re a good idea. It’s not surprising really, since most motorists believe – incorrectly – that winter tyres are for driving in snowy conditions, and we simply don’t get enough of that in the UK, right?
Wrong. In fact winter tyres are primarily for driving in cold weather – not snow – and we can all agree that we’ve had plenty of chilly conditions lately in the UK, right? Of course when it does snow, winter tyres are much better suited to the conditions, but to reiterate, this is a secondary reason to switch from summer to winter tyres, compared to the main one – cold weather conditions.
Exactly how cold? At what point do winter tyres provide drivers with significantly reduced stopping distances, compared to standard summer tyres? The answer is 7°C or below. To put this into context, the average temperature in London during December 2017 was around 4°C, and so far in January 2018 has been between 5-6°C. This low temperature can be reasonably expected to continue into February too.
With this in mind, especially given the very cold weather (and subsequent snow) we all experienced across the UK in December – and the travel chaos that ensued – it’s clear that UK drivers need to consider winter tyres, and in particular the benefits that greatly reduced stopping distances deliver in cold, wet, icy conditions.
‘Stopping distance’ sounds familiar – what is it?
Unless you’ve only recently taken your driving test, the chances are it’s been a long time since you were introduced to the definition of ‘stopping distance’. If this sounds like you, here’s a quick refresher:
Stopping distance equals “thinking distance” (your reaction time) plus “braking distance” (how far the car travels after the brakes have been applied, until it stops).
Makes sense, right? It’s why paying complete attention while driving is so important, and why there are numerous incidents involving collisions between vehicles and, tragically, people when not enough attention has been paid. It’s problamatic enough in warm weather conditions, but when it gets cold, wet and icy, the problem doubles – literally.
Why? Because stopping distances are significantly increased due to the road being much harder to grip when it’s cold, especially when they’re covered in water or ice. Standard summer tyres struggle to perform at this temperature, compared to when used in the warm weather conditions they’re designed for.
So what makes winter tyres so much better at reducing stopping distances?
There are various differences between summer and winter tyres, including that winter tyre treads are cut in a different pattern that offers more interlocking grip, but the important one is that winter tyres are made of a completely different rubber compound.
And this is where the cold weather 7°C or below point is fundemental. At this temperature, the softer compounds found in winter tyres mean the tyre can better grip cold roads, allowing drivers to stop quickly and safely in cold, wet, icy weather conditions. It’s that simple.
Unconvinced? Watch this short video – made in partnership between Continental and Mercedes-Benz – and see the difference for yourself.
Selected Continental winter tyres
Premium tyre manufacturers, like Continental, have been championing the use of winter tyres in the UK for many years. They know from experience abroad – such as in mainland Europe and the United States – that winter tyres make a noticeable difference to driver safety in cold weather conditions.
No matter what type of vehicle you driver – whether it be a compact city run-around, family saloon, 4×4, SUV or Crossover, high-performance sports car, or light van or truck – Continental have a dedicated, proven winter tyre to meet all UK motorists needs, including:
WinterContact™ TS 860 S – ideal for premium sports cars.
WinterContact™ TS 860 – great for compact and mid-size vehicles.
WinterContact™ TS 850 P – developed for mid-sized, luxury vehicles and SUVs.
ContiWinterContact™ TS 850 – For compact and medium-sized vehicles
ContiCrossContact Winter – specifically for SUVs and off-road vehicles.
Conti4x4WinterContact – for 4x4s, SUVs and off-road vehicles.
VanContact Winter – ideal for vans, transporters and mobile homes.
Vanco™ Winter 2 – another great tyre for transporter and vans.
What about all-season tyres?
All-season offer all year round protection, right? It’s not quite as simple as that, since not all are the same. All-season tyres can make a lot of sense for some drivers, but not all. If you happen to live in a part of the UK where winters are mild, and you typically only driving around in town (and don’t do excessive mileage) then yes, all-season tyres could be right for you.
And if an all-season tyre’s is the right choice for you, the next question is which should you go for? And here, it’s quality that really matters. All-season tyres are – by definition – a compromise solution. They prove to be a real challenge for tyre engineers and designers. Put simply, all-season tyres need to:
perform better in warm weather conditions than winter tyres;
perform better in cold weather than summer tyres; and
offer good rolling resistance, so as to keep fuel bills down.
Thankfully, there is one tyre that does all this: Continental’s AllSeasonContact. It is one of a very small handful of all-season tyres available that can genuinely claim to tick all these boxes – and more. Indeed, it scores “best in class” for rolling resistance, helping drivers minimise their fuel bills.
Speak to Asda Tyres about winter tyres
If you want to dramatically reduce your stopping distances in cold, wet, icy weather conditions, or want to know more about driver and tyre safety, get in touch with the Asda Tyres team today. Our experienced tyre professionals can offer you impartial advice and expert tyre fitting solutions. Click here to live chat to one of our experts, or find your nearest fitting station.