Snow tyres are designed to make driving in snow and ice easier. Unlike regular tyres, they’re designed to cope with wintery conditions and slippery roads. There’s no doubting they’re great for getting about during a cold snap, but do you really need them? Let’s find out.
How do snow tyres work?
Snow tyres – also known as winter tyres – aren’t just used for driving in snow, they provide better performance and road handling throughout the cold and frosty winter months.
Carmagazine.co.uk explain the science behind how snow tyres work:
“Winter/cold-weather tyres contain more natural rubber than regular tyres, and are constructed of a softer compound. This allows them to stay supple as temperatures drop below 7 degrees C, maintaining higher grips levels on the road, in conditions where a normal tyre becomes hard and less keyed-in to the asphalt.”
Do I need to buy snow tyres?
So that’s the science bit out of the way, but do I need to buy some for my car? The simple answer is no, not unless you need to do a lot of long-distance driving over the winter months or you’re planning on driving abroad to a country with a lot of snow.
Winter tyres can be expensive. In fact, Which? explain that a set of four snow tyres and spare rims for a Mini would set you back £560. Bearing in mind that we only see a couple of weeks of snow in the UK each year (and all the other expenses that come from being a new driver, like driving lessons and insurance), they might not be worth the cost.
Snow tyres: driving abroad
In many European countries, snow tyres are commonplace or even compulsory. For much of Europe, snow is a regular occurrence and having winter tyres allows life to go on as normal during the winter.
If you’re planning on driving abroad, it’s worth checking what the legal requirements are when it comes to snow tyres, and whether you’ll need them. If you’re a young or newly-qualified driver, however, it’s unlikely that you’ll be taking to the road abroad anytime soon.
Are snow tyres worth the money?
It’s up to you whether you buy snow tyres to tackle the upcoming months on the road, but make sure you consider whether it’s worth it first. If you live in Scotland, for example, you might get more use out of your snow tyres than someone living in London. Likewise, those living in rural areas can come to rely on their cars.
If you do decide to go ahead and buy some snow tyres, make sure you shop around for the best price first, but stick with a reputable dealer.
Image via Colin Poellot.