Snow tyres vs. standard tyres: which is best?
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Every driver knows the importance of keeping a good set of tyres on their vehicle and as a fleet manager you know that well-maintained tyres will reduce your running costs too.
However, when it comes to the winter weather, not many people consider changing their tyres. While it is common practice in colder countries around the world, in the UK not many drivers routinely switch over to snow tyres, but they can increase your performance, safety and wear.
What are snow tyres?
Also referred to as winter tyres, snow tyres provide a better grip on the road in cold, icy and snowy conditions.
Snow tyres have a different tread pattern designed to improve and enhance grip on the ground. Unlike normal tyres, snow tyres include a narrow slit on the perimeter of the tread area along with wider grooves across the rest of the rubber.
The other main difference won’t be obvious from a visual inspection, but snow tyres have a different composition. A normal tyre will stiffen as the temperature drops, with performance dropping off once temperatures dip below 7°C. However, winter tyres are made from a different type of rubber that remains soft and pliable even when the temperature hits below zero, ensuring that they still grip the road just as well as in warm weather.
Why not use them all year round?
Despite their improved performance when the weather is cold and the ground is wet and icy, when the temperature rises, it’s a different story.
In warmer conditions, the rubber on a winter tyre provides less grip than a normal car tyre. It will also wear out far quicker and burn more fuel.
So, if you’re going to use snow tyres, there’s a very fine line between when they are useful and when they could adversely affect the performance.
Is the change worth it?
In colder countries where deep snow and impermeable frost and ice are commonplace, using winter tyres isn’t a debate; they’re a motoring essential, but in the UK, conditions are more moderate.
Using snow tyres means keeping two sets of tyres and switching between the two, depending on the seasons. This may mean additional expenses and inconvenience. Plus, many drivers report that their car doesn’t handle quite as well on winter tyres, so if it’s not icy or snowy, you may find the tyres are actually a slight disadvantage.
But, when ice and snow arrives, having winter tyres can be the difference between a fully working fleet and one struggling not to slip and crash, or even at a standstill as the weather conditions make I too hazardous to drive. Drivers who have experienced the difference snow tyres make often describe them as revolutionising their attitude to driving in the ice and snow.
Whether you decide to make the chance really depends on how critical it is for you to keep moving when there’s snow on the ground. The UK is increasingly experiencing more severe winters and if your business needs to be able to stay on the road in icy and snowy conditions, you may well find the benefits outweigh the inconvenience and cost of switching tyres.
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to snow tyres, but you should always consider whether your fleet can weather whatever the weather throws at it, or whether they need extra help to deal with any extreme situations. After all, making sure everyone is safe should always be a priority when managing your fleet.
For help in deciding which tyres would be perfect for your fleet, why not try our ServicePoint platform, which will link you to the nearest National Tyres and Autocare centre? There, you will receive expert guidance on how to care for your tyres as well as advice about which winter tyre would suit you and your vehicle best.