The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has offered motorists advice on the pros and cons of using winter tyres, as cold weather continues across the UK.
There are two main differences between winter and normal tyres. Winter tyres have a different tread pattern which gives a better grip on snow and ice. They also use a different material which stays soft and grips at temperatures well below zero.
But winter tyres have drawbacks in terms of storage and cost. Most European drivers who make the switch to winter rubber have two sets of wheels and tyres to make change over easy, but steel wheels for the winter can cost upwards of £500.
The IAM has put forward compromises to motorists who want extra grip but without the cost or inconvenience. Their suggestions include all season tyres, snow chains and snow socks. Snow socks are a relatively recent innovation comprising a strong fabric which grips snow and stretches to fit over the tyre.
According to the IAM drivers can expect to pay around £50 for a set of economy chains, or typically about £40 upwards for snow socks.
Changing to winter tyres permanently is an option, but unadvisable as they have less grip in warm weather, wear more quickly and are less fuel efficient.
Peter Rodger, IAM chief examiner, said: “With extremes of cold weather being unusual here, and the UK government showing no signs of making winter tyres compulsory, there is no obligation to invest in them.
“In countries where severe winter weather conditions are more or less guaranteed, it is quite normal for drivers to switch to winter tyres for the duration of the cold season.
“This practice has not been commonly taken up in the UK because harsh winters are fairly unusual, despite experience to the contrary over the last two years.”
For more information contact the IAM press office on 020 8996 9777.