August 23, 2019

Debunking the myths of cold weather tyres

Winter is approaching, and with that comes the likelihood of plummeting temperatures, ice and snow. As a direct result many van owners and fleets are preparing to re-fit the cold weather tyres they used last winter, while others will be considering a move to seasonal rubber for the first time. Peter Fairlie, group sales director of ATS Euromaster, answers some of the most common winter tyre questions asked about cold weather tyres.

Why change tyres when it only snows for a few days?
Cold weather tyres make getting about in the snow a lot easier – but they are far from being simply ‘snow tyres’. Compared with regular summer tyres they use a higher concentration of silica to prevent the rubber hardening when the temperature drops below 7°C, together with a specially designed tread pattern which ensures they provide better grip, handling and reduced braking distances in the cold – as well as on wet, snow and ice covered roads.

Despite what felt like a relatively mild winter in 2011/2012, detailed weather analysis by the Met Office within ten major UK cities revealed that temperatures dropped below 7°C during prime commuting hours on 147 separate days between 1 October 2011 and 31 March 2012.

Will fitting cold weather tyres affect my insurance?
No. Fitting cold weather tyres is not classified as a material modification, so there is no impact on premiums. The one condition insurance firms have is that such tyres must be fitted by a reputable service provider, in accordance with the motor manufacturer’s specifications.

Whilst many insurers have said that they would not require the policyholder to notify them if these tyres are fitted, the Association of British Insurer’s advice is to tell your insurer anyway.

Remember – fitting cold weather tyres should cut the likelihood of being involved in an accident. Van users can take maximum advantage of winter fitments between October and March. But even in April 2012, temperatures across the UK were the lowest in 23 years, with an average of just 6.3°C.

Do 4x4s pick-ups or commercials need cold weather tyres?
Ideally, yes. Cold weather tyres are designed to run at low ambient road temperatures and therefore have very different characteristics compared with regular 4×4 tyres. At the very least, ensure your 4x4s are fitted with M+S-rated (Mud and Snow) tyres. If not, consider a specific winter-fitment. You’ll be amazed how the performance improves throughout winter.

Is fitting cold weather tyres costly, as you are buying two sets of tyres?
No, this argument doesn’t stand up to critical scrutiny. You’re only causing wear to one set of tyres at a time – total tyre wear doesn’t increase; and if there’s a slight cost to the purchase of tyres, fitting, and out-of-season storage in a tyre hotel, owners can measure that against downtime following an accident.

The fact that cold weather tyres stop cars, 4x4s and vans more effectively in cold weather is a measure of performance and should make owners and fleets less vulnerable to bad weather. They’ll help to keep you mobile and reduce the number of days when snow and ice keeps you off the road.

I’m interested in cold weather tyres, but I will only buy them if it starts to snow…
The golden rule with cold weather tyres is that if you wait until the snow begins to fall, you’ll be unlikely to find stocks. Following huge demand last year we have ordered more winter tyre stocks than ever before, but our advice to customers is still to plan ahead, as UK supplies may still run short.

To find out more, call 0845 618 0424 or visit www.atseuromaster.co.uk