Manufacturers recommend we switch to winter tyres when temperatures start to head towards zero…here’s how they work cold-weather alternatives work
Winter tyres are made up of a softer compound than standard tyres by using much more natural rubber within their construction, meaning as temperatures drop below seven degrees the rubber stays malleable rather than becoming rigid. This enables them to keep good contact with the road surface and provide more surface friction.
Braking distances are decreased and the general grip is increased compared to standard tyres.
More extreme measures can be provided, including chain covers for your wheels to bite into the heavily-compacted snow and slush or even spiked tyres.
As an alternative, you can try Snow Tyre Socks:
Snow socks are a relatively new technology. As the name suggests, you pull the sock over the wheel and tyre, meaning no additional costs for tyre removal and fitting. Unlike conventional snow chains, tyre socks have no metal parts. Instead, they are coated with a strong textile surface, which is claimed to optimise grip on the road. Winter tyres work in extreme conditions As long as there is enough room to fit your hand between the top of the tyre and the wheel arch, you can pull the tyre sock over the tyre fairly easily. You’ll need to move the car forward or back slightly to fit the sock fully over the tyre. Once the tyre sock is on, it will self-centre on its own as you drive. Because there are no metal parts, vibrations and noise are claimed to be relatively low.
Whether you fork out for a full set of winter tyres should come down to the weather you plan to be driving in and your relative budget. Although the vast majority of us seem to just take our chances with standard tyre treads and compounds all year round, the added benefits especially in safety may sway you one day towards buying a set.