Another blast of cold weather is forecast for Ireland this week, with snow likely in some areas. We’ve already brought you tips on safe driving in freezing conditions…but there’s another step you could take too. That’s to consider fitting winter tyres to your van, if you haven’t already done so.
However, you might be unsure as to what difference winter tyres actually make. So here’s our handy guide to what you need to know, to help you make up your mind.
How are winter tyres different from other tyres?
There are two major differences between winter tyres and regular tyres (that you might call ‘summer tyres’):
- There is a larger percentage of natural rubber and silica in the material used to make winter tyres. This means they don’t harden as much as ‘summer tyres’ in cold weather, and this improves the tyre’s grip.
- There’s also a difference in the treads on the tyre. On winter tyres, the treads are both larger and deeper. This gives a larger channel for water, ice and snow to travel through, which also gives better grip on the road.
So winter tyres grip the road better. Are there other benefits too?
The other major benefit of winter tyres is shorter stopping distances for your vehicle. Some examples are:
Braking in the wet, from 100 km/h:
With winter tyres: 65.7 metres.
With regular tyres: 70.5 metres.
Braking in snow, from 50 km/h:
With winter tyres: 35 metres.
With regular tyres: 43 metres.
Braking on ice, from 50 km/h:
With winter tyres: 57 metres.
With regular tyres: 68 metres.
When should I use winter tyres?
The general guideline is to use winter tyres whenever air temperature drops below 7° for long periods of time. In Ireland, that tends to be from November through to about February.
It’s even more important to use them when temperatures are likely to drop below freezing, such as the forecast for the coming few days.
Remember to remove them again and replace with regular tyres when things warm up between Spring and Autumn.
Are winter tyres more expensive?
Not really. Obviously it depends on manufacturer and supplier, but in general, there is little difference between the cost of winter tyres and regular tyres. Any small difference you might find should be considered an investment in safety. Even a minor crash caused by poorer grip or longer stopping distances could end up costing you a lot more.
Nor should you see it as an extra expense, on top of the cost of your regular tyres. Remember, you’re still only causing wear to one set of tyres at a time. You’ll need to get new tyres eventually anyway – it’s just that this way, by swapping with winter tyres and then swapping back again, you’re just doing it a little differently.
Are there any downsides of winter tyres?
Only if used incorrectly, in warmer weather.
Their rubber/silica compound will wear out more quickly than ‘regular’ tyres in temperatures above 7°. Their stopping distance will be greater on dry roads at warmer temperatures too.
These issues are easily avoided though, by simply changing tyres when the weather warms up again.
Where can I get winter tyres?
All good tyre depots should have a stock of winter tyres. Just be sure to carry out the usual checks that the tyres you’re buying are the most suitable for your van.
Using winter tyres might make a difference in keeping you safe while driving in cold weather. But remember, if an accident does occur, your van insurance is there to protect you – and we are the leading providers of van insurance in Ireland.
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