When the temperatures drop during the winter, the roads become more dangerous to drive on. One way that you can counteract this is with winter tyres, but how do these work, how do they differ to all season tyres, and how can you make sure they last?

It’s important to stay safe at all times, particularly when weather conditions change. That’s why it’s important to be prepared, and know exactly when and how to manage your winter tyres.

How do winter tyres work?

The point of winter tyres is to create more grip, which is needed during the colder months due to ice or snow on the roads. Winter tyres have deeper grooves and tiny slits, called sipes, in the tread.

These features help the tyres form a more solid grip by dispersing the snow underneath, and therefore improving contact between tyre and road. Sipes in particular also help shorten the braking distance, which is usually elongated by slippery conditions.

As soon as the weather turns below 7°C, summer tyres are not performing to their best ability, and it could be time to swap out to winter ones.

How to identify winter tyres

Your tyre sidewall will have various symbols that explain the type of tyre you have, and winter tyres are no different.

There are two key identifying symbols for winter tyres. The first reads ‘M+S’, standing for ‘mud and snow’. Next to that, you’ll also see a three-peak mountain with a snowflake inside it. Known as the ‘snowflake symbol’, this icon means that your tyres provide safety driving on snow and ice.

All season tyres vs. winter tyres

There are pros and cons to all tyres, but the main ones that we tend to concern ourselves with are winter tyres vs. all season tyres. The main comparison to be made is that with all season tyres, you don’t have to worry about swapping them out in the summer.

That being said, because they’re designed to be multi-purpose, they’re not quite as good as having specialist winter and summer tyres that you change between as needed. Deciding which option to go for ultimately depends on whether it’s realistic for you personally to swap out your tyres, or if the convenience of all season tyres is worth them being less specialised.

Can you use winter tyres all year round?

You can use winter tyres all year, but it’s not recommended. These tyres are purposefully designed to work on snow and in colder conditions, so they’re not quite as high functioning if you take them out of that context.

Disadvantages of winter tyres in summer

Winter tyres are designed for the winter, meaning that whatever conditions you put them in, they will act as they would in cold weather. They wear out faster on summer roads because they’re so supple; they’re not designed for being worn on harder surfaces.

Alternatively, all season tyres get harder and softer when they need to, to best suit the surface they’re being used on.

How to store winter tyres

When it comes to storing your winter tyres, the first thing you need to do is make sure they’re clean. Remove any dust, salt, or general dirt by giving them a good scrub. You’ll get the best result if you do this after taking them off your car.

Once they’re dry, place each tyre in a large plastic bag. The key is to then use a vacuum cleaner to suck the air out of the bag and make it airtight. Tyre rubber is full of natural oils that are necessary for them to work properly, and incorrect storage can let these oils dry out, resulting in a cracked, dry surface.

An airtight seal minimises the risk of evaporation, so they’ll still be safe to use next winter. You should then store them somewhere shady and well ventilated, ideally a garage, where they won’t get too hot.

Find your all season car with findandfundmycar.com

At findandfundmycar.com, we provide used cars from trusted dealerships all over the UK. Whatever tyres you decide to choose, find a car you’ll fall in love with by browsing our selection today.

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