Winter tyres: everything you need to know about safe winter driving
All tires have different properties that make them perform better in specific conditions.
When is the best time to choose winter tyres?
Did you know that in black ice with winter tires at an original speed of 50 km/h you come to a halt on average 8 meters earlier than with summer tires.
That doesn't sound like much, but that's a difference of more than a car and a half.
You are best off with winter tires on your car if:
- Temperatures have dropped below 7 degrees Celsius
- When there is a lot of rain
- When it is icy or snowing
Winter conditions can therefore also be encountered outside the usual winter months (December, January, February).
Especially if you regularly travel for work or holiday during the winter period, it is advisable (and in some cases mandatory) to have winter tires mounted on your car.
Not only do you reduce the risk of an accident with winter tires, but also the risk of nasty legal consequences should an accident nevertheless occur.
Why are winter tires in winter conditions so much better than summer tires?
There is actually a big difference between summer and winter tires. It is not a marketing ploy by tire companies to sell more.
- Winter tires have a soft compound with many grooves that better grip the slippery road surface in winter.
- Summer tires are harder with fewer grooves and less tread depth. This gives better controllability in hot and dry conditions and lower fuel consumption.
Winter tire profile: why it makes the big difference
Due to the cold, your regular tires can completely lose their grip in winter.
Anyone who has ever skidded with their car knows how suddenly this can happen. You definitely want to avoid this:
The big difference compared to ordinary tires is in the profile and the composition of the tyre.
The unique character of winter tires is reflected, for example, in:
- the rubber compound
- the depth of the tread and the pattern of the tires
- the small grooves in the tread
The rubber compound of winter tires
Winter tires contain a higher natural rubber content. This ensures that they remain flexible in the cold. And that they come into contact with the road surface more.
A normal tire hardens at colder temperatures, but a winter tire performs optimally when the temperature drops below 7 degrees.
Tread depth and pattern – good for snow situations:
Winter tires also have a deep tread pattern. The winter tire profile creates a cavity for the snow.
The crazy thing is that nothing holds snow better than snow itself.
The compressed snow increases the grip effect and provides extra traction. Your vehicle is then pushed forward, so to speak, on snowy and icy roads.
You will also notice this extra grip when cornering and when braking.
In short: more safety, also in the snow.
When are winter tires a necessity?
Let's say it again: the tires of your car are the only contact with the road. And make the difference between a safe and an unsafe ride.
Winter tires are tires specially designed for winter conditions. When temperatures drop below 7 degrees Celsius, winter tires prove their added value in many cases.
In fact, if these temperatures last longer, winter tires are even a necessity. Especially if this is accompanied by wet, wintery conditions.
In countries with mild winters, where temperatures barely come close to freezing, summer tires can sometimes suffice.
Of course, the need for winter tires also depends on the local rules.