Many parts of the UK are experiencing their first winter snow falls and icy roads. At this time says the Tyre Industry Council, motorists should think more about their tyres than at any other time of the year. And clearly the four patches of rubber that connect the vehicle to the road surface become even more important when the weather and road conditions deteriorate.
One of the most recent tyre developments benefiting motoring safety has been the introduction of cold weather tyres designed to perform more effectively in snow and icy conditions, especially when temperatures fall below 7oC. These tyres should not be confused with the more traditional winter tyre, also known as mud and snow tyres. Cold weather tyres have a different rubber compound which remains more pliant at low temperatures giving them extra grip in cold, wet and icy conditions.
Braking tests at 20 mph on an icy road have shown that a car equipped with cold weather tyres will stop a full 11 metres sooner than a car fitted with standard tyres. Interestingly in a similar test at 20oC the cold weather tyres stopped in almost the same distance as standard tyres. If the UK is to have more very cold weather with snow and ice, the balance of choice between running standard or cold weather tyres becomes more blurred and many drivers may well opt for the cold weather tyre option, happy to trade the small increase in fuel consumption during the summer months for safer and more secure handling in adverse weather conditions.