All talk turns to winter tyres in UK

There is only one topic making all the headlines this week in the UK and that is the weather. While this is of not doing anything for the old clichés about the national interests of people in the UK, it has caused plenty of debate in the areas of car maintenance and driving.

We’ve provided bits of news and guides galore on preparing your car for winter, driving it in winter and even diagnosing the reason why your car won’t start in bad weather, but there is still one bit of winter debate still left to discuss.

Winter tyres – are they this years’ fad or a genuine must-have accessory for bad weather?

It seems the experts are lining up to support winter tyres, and with good reason. Land Rover, Toyota, Volvo and Suzuki have all launched winter tyre testing programmes this year, and groups such as tyresafe, the RAC and the AA are all advocating the use of winter tyres.

The science behind them is simple, tread patterns are specially designed to cope with wet conditions and reduce aquaplaning.

This means winter tyres are ideal for all poor weather conditions, even if it just wet. They are even recommended for conditions when temperatures are underneath seven degrees Celsius.

The tyres are made from high-tech materials which reduce the risk of the rubber hardening in colder weather, causing the car to slip and skid on icy or slippery roads.

Which is why Ford is offering a half-price refund policy on its Pirelli winter tyres if the temperature fails to drop below seven degrees Celsius for 30 out of the 59 days between the start of January and the end of February this year.

"Winter weather tyres offer considerable safety improvements for many months of the year when driving conditions are typically cold or damp," explains Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. "There is a misconception that they only offer better performance in snow and ice, but this is a very outdated view. Technology has advanced significantly and modern winter weather tyres provide much better safety in a range of conditions over a substantial part of the year."

We can’t argue with that, and recent tests by respected car magazine Autocar also found winter tyres could drastically improve results in snow and ice.

But winter tyres can be expensive – expect to pay over £500 for a good quality set of four. There are short-term alternatives however, should you need more time to save for what could soon be a necessity in the UK.

It comes in the form of the Vauxhall snow sock, designed to slip over tyres to give instant extra grip at a cost of only £50.

Interest since we published the news has been huge for the tyre socks, showing a growing trend in the UK towards equipping your car for the winter months.

The Vauxhall snow sock provides an affordable option, but our advice would be to get saving for a full set of winter tyres, because with demand soon to outstrip supply, they could soon be the must-have car part this Christmas.