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The UK's weather is a fickle thing. The late summer has just passed and soon, according to forecasters, we can expect some snow. With that in mind, it's a good time to think about preparing for a white October and, in particular, road safety. To make sure you are not stranded in the snow unable to work, it's worth considering investing in some decent winter tyres.
Many people think a winter tyre is just for snow. Although they perform very well on the white stuff, they are also perfectly fine to use during normal driving, coming into their own when the temperature drops below 7 degrees centigrade.
There are many misconceptions surrounding winter tyres but they are perfectly usable in plenty of everyday situations and they also have the potential to save lives when conditions take a turn for the worse.
Why do I need winter tyres? The tyre is arguably the most important component on your car. Four areas of rubber roughly the same size as the palm of your hand – or 23 sq. inches – are all that is connecting your car with the road surface underneath it.
With that in mind it seems shocking that people continue to use tyres that aren’t suitable for the conditions. In the UK during 2009 just 1.2% of all tyre sales were winter tyres, while in Germany it was a massive 48%.
However, in the UK last winter it became obvious that many people were ill-prepared for cold and snowy conditions. Roads quickly clogged once the snow started falling and some people spent over 12 hours stranded in their vehicles. Would the situation have been different if drivers had properly prepared for winter driving?
So, why are winter tyres so effective? The performance of a tyre relies on heat. A winter tyre generally has higher silica content in the rubber, meaning it can stay flexible at lower temperatures. For this reason, it's wise to fit winter tyres as soon as the temperature outside gets into single digits.
They also have up to ten times more ‘sipes' - or carefully-positioned tiny grooves in the tread of the tyre - which mean the tread can move around and generate more heat which then improves grip. Larger gaps in the tread are also there to pick up snow. This may seem odd, but snow grips onto snow a lot better than rubber does. For this reason the tyre uses the snow to its advantage, and when back on the tarmac again the heat generated by the grooves on the tarmac will soon get rid of any un-wanted snow left on the tyre.
Do I need to change all four tyres if my car is only two-wheel drive? Yes. It is best to change all four tyres at once to make sure you have equal traction on each corner. This will ensure you have handling characteristics as similar to what the manufacturer designed as possible and should minimise the chances of a nasty surprise. Call today to order your Winter Tyres on 01623 623400
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