If you take the time to prepare for the chilly winter season, before the temperature plummets to the freezing point, you can easily enjoy the cold without much hassle. Even if there are fewer chances of snow and ice, it is advisable for you to prepare for any winter emergency.
To this effect, it is advisable to fit dedicated winter tyres in your vehicle. These tyres make a sensible buy if the temperature frequently falls below 7 degree Celsius. Winter tyres are suitable for use when the temperature dips down.
About winter tyres
A winter tyre is a kind of tyre which is designed to offer your car extra grip during cold temperature conditions, especially when you are driving over ice and snow. The principal difference between winter tyres and ordinary or all-weather tyres are:
ñWinter tyres use a much softer rubber compound
ñSurface of tread blocks is specially designed with small jagged slits-known as sipes
ñThese tyres usually have deeper tread grooves compared to conventional tyres
Why winter tyres?
You need winter tyres if you expect to drive on damp and cold roads with the outside temperature less than 7 degrees centigrade. The secret to such tyres' better grip in ice covered and wet surfaces is sipe, which has minute additional “edges” that grip the road when the tyre rotates. The sipes enable localised rubber movement as the soft compound adheres to the road. In contrast, an ordinary tyre stays rigid and cannot maintain the needed grip.
It must be mentioned that it is inadvisable to use winter tyres above an outside temperature of 7 degrees. They offer considerably poorer grip in warm weather. It means a considerable increase in the braking distances and much worse handling. You may also not find better control while taking turns.
Expense associated with winter tyres
Ideally, you should have two sets of tyres for your vehicle - one of them exclusively for the winters. In a few places where winters are bitterly cold, drivers invariably choose steel rims, that have lesser chance of corrosion after being subjected to winter grit.
Costs for winter tyres vary among the various types of vehicles. For example, the basic price of high quality rims is around £560, excluding the assembly. Prices can go up as high as £635. Such up-front expenses may seem prohibitive, but the actual overall costs come out to be much economical. You may not have to replace the rims for a long time, if maintained well.
Fitting the winter tyres
You should fit the winter tyres before the onset of freezing weather. If you wait until the roads are frozen, you will not be able to fit the tyres to your vehicle. In colder European countries, it is compulsory to fit the tyres within October and to remove them in March. It is advisable that you remove them during spring-time.
Alternatives to winter tyres
If you cannot fit winter tyres to your vehicle, do consider fitting tyre socks. As the name suggests, they are a type of 'fabric' socks, which are wrapped around the tyres to give you extra grip while driving on ice and snow. The expense comes to approximately £50 per pair. However, you must remove them when you are off the ice and snow. If you continue to use tyre socks to drive on a paved surface, then they will be quickly torn to shreds. Even on snow, they are simply a temporary measure. An easier alternative is to use all-season tyres, which can be used all through the year.