Could you use all-season tyres over full winter ones?For a lot of us, having that spare set of winter tyres sat around for nine or ten months of the year is a luxury. So, is it better to simply fit all-season tyres and run those year-round? After all, the price of them is similar to a set of normal summer tyres anyway. Well, traditionally all-season and winter tyres work better in the cold (below 7˚C) anyway, but there's generally a big difference in performance between winter and all-season tyres should the snow and ice hit. Take this video as an example of the differences in acceleration, stopping and cornering. https://youtu.be/JGfvyPtYR0Y
Are winter tyres worth the extra cost?As mentioned earlier, if we don't get a bad winter, it's a bitter pill to swallow if nothing much happened in the way of bad weather, and you've had winter tyres fitted specifically and are just wasting rubber on dry roads. However, it may not be as expensive as you'd think to buy a set of steel wheels and winter tyres, which you could then simply fit yourself if the weather did turn nasty. As an example, you can buy a set of brand new steel wheels (to save your nice alloys from all that harsh road salt and getting dinged against kerbs should you slide), for something like an Audi A4/A6 for around £30 - £35.00 per wheel, while a vehicle dismantler/breakers may sell you a full set of decent second-hand ones for around £25.00. Tyre fitment to the steel rims can be £10.00 upwards including balancing and inflation valves. Online tyre retailers often sell winter rubber cheap coming up to the season, so get in early for a better cost. Get them at the right time, and you can save a fortune with big discounts, and there are good makes such as Bridgestone, Pirelli and Michelin selling from as little as £38.00 - £50.00 per tyre if you start at 15" versions. However, the price goes up with the tyre size, and you can start to pay from around £100.00 per tyre for something like an 18" rim. So, let's count the cost. For a cheap set of second-hand steelies and good quality 15" winter tyres, you're looking at around £225.00. For a set of new steel wheels with a 18" winter tyres, you could be looking to start at £580.00 all done. You could also save money and simply have the winter tyres fitted directly to your alloy wheels if you're brave, which would knock a chunk of the total. But it could also be false economy if there's no cold weather and you're wearing them down for no reason. Oh, and on more point. Just because you've got a 4x4 or AWD vehicle, they can be almost as useless as a 2-wheel-drive car if you've only got standard summer road tyres on. And as a lot are heavier than a normal car, they're like a hippo on roller skates.
In the end, is it worth fitting winter tyres?Yes, if you're in these situations:
- If it's essential that you get to work in wintertime, and can't risk not getting there should bad weather hit, yes they're worth it
- If you drive a lot as part of your job
- If you like to get about during winter generally, and can't stand to be stuck in.
- If you live in a rural area and the shops for essentials are a fair distance
- If you live where it's almost guaranteed to snow anyway - like the Highlands of Scotland, Brecon Beacons in Wales or the Lake District in England
- If you tend to keep your cars for a long time (same size wheels for years)
- If you don't like to drive in winter, even if it's to the local shops
- If you're not a confident driver in bad weather generally anyway
- If there are plenty of forms of public transport readily available to get about, such as in London or other big cities
- If your budget is tight and you can't justify gambling on a bad winter happening
- If you change your car every couple of years or sooner
What about Snow Socks or Tyre ChainsIf you can't afford to buy the full winter tyres, but still want to get about to the local shops or work, there are alternatives that can be fitted to tyres in the form of Snow Socks or Tyre Chains. These vary in quality and price, but as long as you're not going far and the main roads are clear, these are a great alternative to winter rubber being fitted. Written by Chris Davies - an award-winning motoring journalist writing for CarProductsTested.com Photo Credits: lmnop88a Ready to play (Winter tires on BMW); andrew prickett Happy Saturday (Winter road); Oregon Department of Transportation Traction Tires
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