With a cold weather warning sweeping the nation, now is the right time for drivers to pay particular attention to tyre safety for the coming wintry months. Motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, reports.
As the UK’s average mean temperature is below 7°C throughout the winter months, winter tyres become the optimal choice for motorists. Even at low temperatures, they stay supple and provide the best levels of grip unlike summer tyres which harden in these conditions. Winter tyres also have an increased number of ‘sipes’ or grooves in the tread allowing more contact with the road in icy or wet conditions.
All-season tyres are an increasingly popular option as they provide better performance than summer tyres in winter and are designed to be driven all year-round. However, they do not offer the optimal performance of summer tyres in warm weather or winter tyres in the cold. When deciding whether winter or all-season tyres are their best option for the months ahead, owners should consider their own driving requirements and, most importantly, ensure they and their tyres are prepared for winter driving.
That starts with checking the tyres are in good condition and free of visible signs of damage, they are inflated to the pressures recommended by the vehicle manufacturer and they have good tread depth above the 1.6mm legal minimum limit. Tread depth is especially important when driving in the wet as it clears water from between the tyre and the road, keeping grip levels at an optimum.
Expect the Unexpected
However, drivers should also be prepared for unexpected tyre-related incidents, especially with high winds scattering debris on the roads and increasing the risk of punctures. While only 8% of new cars are sold with a spare tyre as standard, many owners are not aware their vehicle doesn’t have one. This is in part due to the number of run-flat and ‘space saver’ tyres being fitted, allowing the car to be driven to the nearest tyre retailer for inspection. Emergency puncture repair kits may also be found in the boot of many cars.