IAM says winter tyres are on the increase

14.21 | 13 September 2011 | | 1 comment

The IAM says that winter tyres are becoming more common in the UK because of the harsh winters over the last two years.

In countries where severe winters are guaranteed it is normal for drivers to switch to winter tyres with a different tread pattern to give better grip on snow and ice. A snowflake on a mountain symbol on the sidewall of a tyre indicates that it uses winter grade rubber which stays flexible and maintains grip to well below freezing. By comparison, the rubber used on standard tyres hardens as the temperature drops.

Peter Rodger, IAM chief examiner, said: “The weather we experience in the UK is nowhere near as severe as many other countries, but with the past two winters having been particularly bad, motorists in the hardest-hit areas may feel reassured to have the extra grip winter tyres afford.

“But weigh up the expense. A full set will cost £400-500, and most drivers won’t detect any significant difference in grip until the temperature is freezing. Most importantly, if conditions are really treacherous you should just consider postponing the journey and staying at home.

“Even if the mercury drops to below zero, safe and sensible driving will mean you shouldn’t have any cause for emergency stops, and so little need to test your tyres to their limits.”

For more information contact the IAM Press Office on 020 8996 9777.


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    The reality of living and working in a northern, rural area such as North Yorkshire is such that winter tyres are a practical, sensible investment in safety – if you can afford them. The temperature falls below 5 degrees on a very regular basis, and often drops below freezing, combined with dark mornings and evenings – keeping temperatures low throughout often longer than average journeys to and from work. It may seem like almost a luxury item in southern climes but up here it makes a lot of sense.

    I put the winter wheels and tyres on during October and change back around March. You can only be using one set at a time so the summer tyres last longer: the cost is simply the outlay for an extra set. I think this is a good investment but I know they are a significant outlay that is hard to afford if you are on minimum wage or not much above it.

    For young drivers who need to drive on our rural roads to get to work, with high insurance and higher rural fuel costs, this is probably unaffordable. Yet they would probably benefit most.

    Honor Byford,
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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