With temperature dropping down each day, and climatic conditions getting worse, everything needs extra care, your vehicle too. Get your vehicle an extra protection, and an assurance of your safety by swapping your normal tyres into winter tyres. Winter tyres are one of the three major tyre types, apart from summer and all-weather ones.
What Are Winter Tyres?
Winter tyres, also known as snow tyres, are a legal requirement during winter months in most European countries. One can imagine how much they affect the safety of the vehicle and how essential they might prove in the handling of the vehicle on snow or slush covered roads. Though winter tyres are not a legal requirement in the UK, they must be used if you plan to take your vehicle out on damp and cold winter roads. It might depend on your preferences if you choose to use winter tyres or not, but if you plan to take your vehicle out quite often during winter months, or plan to drive for longer durations or longer miles, you absolutely cannot do without winter tyres and would risk your vehicle and safety and lives of yourself and others on the road if you choose to use summer tyres. All-weather tyres may prove to be an advantage, but they are obviously not as effective as the winter tyres.
Talking about how essential winter tyres are, we also need to understand how they work. So without building much of the curiosity here, let’s understand the mechanism on which winter tyres run. Winter tyres have a tread rubber compound with high silica content, which ensures that the tyre retains its flexibility in low weather conditions. They also come with specific tread patterns, often with more sipes than summer or all-weather tyres, which ultimately result in better traction and effective braking on snow or ice covered roads, or wet roads as well. Many winter tyres come equipped with metal studs. Which enhance the grip of your vehicle over snow. The spiked winter tyres are essential in northern road conditions, where it is sure to find six inches of snow at all times during winters. But using spiked winter tyres damage both, the vehicle and the road if they come in direct contact of the road. The metal studs used in winter tyres are fabricated by putting them into a softer material base, which is known as a jacket. The pin is usually made of tungsten carbide, a very hard and high performance ceramic. The softer base is the part of the stud which hooks it in the rubber of the tyre. And as the tyre wears off with use, the softer base also wears to maintain its surface in proportion to that of the tyre rubber, and the pin wears to keep itself away from the tyre, causing it lesser damage. The pin should be at least 1 mm away from the rubber for the tyre to function properly.Studdable tyres are manufactured with molded holes on the rubber of the tread. There are around 100 moulds per tyre, into which metal studs are inserted. But metal studs cannot be inserted on used tyres, even if the have the moulds to work on, because of the particles which enter into them and the wear and tear that the usage causes. So make sure you purchase studded tyres of premium quality, because you cannot replace the studs if they drop after being driven for a few hundred miles. Also, metal studded tyres are banned in many countries because of the damage they cause to the roads, or at least are banned except for winter months, and should be used only if you live remotely and expect to find heavy snow or ice while driving. To save you from changing tyres every now and then adjusting to the amount of snow on the roads, there is new development of winter tyres which use retractable studs. They allow the pin part of the stud to be retracted into the base of the tyre with a press of a button by the driver.
Are They Affordable?
While many people consider winter car tyres as an extra expense to owning a car, the UK, just like many European countries is considering the importance of these not so cheap tyres. Consider it this way, you are just using an extra set of tyres for specific weather conditions, and you won’t have to replace your summer/standard tyres for a long time now because you would give them a four months break every time you use winter tyres. You just have to keep the set of tyres not in use covered and away from direct sunlight. So if you don’t plan to sell your car off any soon, winter tyres should be a great long-term investment. You might find some cheap winter tyres in the stores though, or surf through the internet to find great deals on winter tyres online. Also, winter tyres have more powerful fore-tyres, thus, have to be bought in a set of four, and not two.
About the Laws
In the UK, unlike Canada or Finland, weather conditions are not so worse that anyone would have to use winter tyres with metal studs. Thus the law does not tells to compulsorily use winter car tyres but there is certainly a requirement of designs which deal with the snow and slush. And if you plan to drive abroad, always check the local rules and regulations, because most countries in Europe often compulsorily guide the drivers to use winter tyres, and not using them might result in on-the-spot fine by the police. However, the extreme weather conditions caused in 2009-2010 have resulted in the UK drivers realising the importance of swapping the tyres into winter tyres, and the insurers no more consider it a modification in the car, but a necessary practice.
Buy winter tyres now to drive safe, even in the extreme weather conditions, and get your car a grip over the snow.
Tips and tricks for driving during winters:
• Keep the windshield as clear as possible.
• Drive slow on wet or snowy/icy roads.
• Winter tyres lead to effective braking on winter roads as compared to summer tyres.
• Keep a check on your tyre pressure, it falls down quick during colder weathers.
• Turn the engine of your car on every couple of days during winters for a few minutes, even if you are not driving it. This will save the engine from being jammed.