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Winter tyres are made from a special compound which is better adapted to cold weather. In colder temperatures the compound in normal tyres stiffened up the and becomes less responsive.
Winter tyres are made from a type of rubber with a high silica content, this makes the tyres more flexible in cold weather-particularly below 7° C.
Regular tyres or, summer tyres have a compound which has relatively hard. This type of compound softens in the warm weather to provide good grip and excellent response. However, as the weather gets colder regular tyres can struggle to maintain grip.
Winter tyres could better be described as ‘cold weather tyres’ and perform well in cold weather and have additional tread patterns cut into the blocks to help to provide more grip in icy or snowy conditions. Check out the video opposite from Auto Express, a clear demonstration of the superior performance of these tyres in the cold, wet and snowy conditions.
You can have winter tyres fitted to your rims and store your normal tyres until summer. Alternatively, you can buy a set of additional wheels for your winter tyres to make switching tyres more convenient.
There is no legal requirement to fit special tyres in winter in the UK, however, in parts of Europe this is mandatory. It is of course essential that you tread depth is within the legal limit but the choice of tyre for winter is up to you. Compounds in winter tyres mean they perform better at lower temperatures. You could also consider using an ‘All weather’ tyre. All weather tyres are designed to perform all year round offering modest compromise compared to other tyres. These offer some of the advantages of both regular and winter tyres so that they can be used throughout the year.
Laws surrounding the use of winter tyres vary from country to country and even region to region. If you’re travelling to Europe on a skiing trip, look out for snow or icy roads with more demanding conditions that you’d normally see at home. Some countries insist that winter equipment – including tyres and chains – are available from specific dates (usually mid October) -and impose penalties on motorist who are not properly equipped.The AA have a winter equipment guide here but, check before you travel as requirements might change.
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