Nobody wants to be on stop as the snow comes and even the worst set up of cars with rear wheel drive and big road tyres can be sorted out with winter tyres, but is it really necessary?.
We run two of our cars on Continental Contact Snow/Ice extreme
tyres from October through till March each year. One of them is a 2.0 litre Golf Tdi and the other is our Skoda Yeti 4×4.
Winter tyres remain flexible down to 30 degrees whereas a normal tyre loses all flexibility from 9 degrees down and in the wet, a winter tyre has more grip. It is easy to believe that there is a cost of £400 for winter tyres but if you rotate your tyres in this way, during the three-year lease of the car, you will not have to replace the tyres that you would otherwise pay for anyway and winter tyres are commonly cheaper than most normal tyres.
In simple terms, there are only four other choices. Do nothing, carry chains, get snow socks or get an emergency spray.
Chains: They are cheap to buy and can be kept for ever to be used on any wheel the same size. They are though really designed for an environment where you are on snow all the time. On tarmac, they are lethal and illegal on tarmac in most European countries. They are not as good as winter tyres in any sense of grip, acceleration or deceleration and take a lot of practice to fit on a cold snowy night
Socks: Easy to fit, cheap to buy and silent in use. The ride is much better than it is with chains with grip being close to a winter tyre, it is important to remember though that getting going is no guarantee of stopping, socks and chains are only fitted to your driving wheels
Spray: Something of an emergency product, the spray is sprayed on to a tyre which has been cleared of snow, the grip is impressive and will help get you out of a problem. It doesn’t last long though and offers very little lateral grip.
Do nothing: For decades we have survived without fitting winter tyres, but until three years ago our winters have been extraordinarily mild for twenty or thirty years. With the last three years suggesting that we may be in another cold winter cycle, it may be getting harder to do without one option or another. We have got expectant of winter being mostly frost free and snow free, but look back to just the early 1970’s and the whole country was blanketed, go back into the 1960’s and three and four feet drifts were common. At that time we considered ourselves lucky, in the 1920’s the Thames froze sufficiently to have a fair on it and the River Mersey froze over also. Mild winters are by no means the norm.
The bottom line
Once you realise the obvious that winter tyres save you replacing tyres during your lease, the cost changes to simply having them swapped around. The incredible difference in how they drive is quite staggering and trust me, over Christmas in the snow you will become everyone’s friend with the only car not parked up at home. Include in that the safety of you and your family and it’s an easy decision