Are winter tyres worth the expense?

See the seven reasons to consider winter tyres on the TyreReviews website. More

Winter tyres are not snow tyres
One of the most common reasons we hear winter tyres aren't needed in the UK is because we don't get enough snow. Winter tyres are designed to be more effective than regular tyres in any temperature under 7C (44F) on any type of road. Cold weather tyres are designed with a larger percentage of natural rubber and silica in the compound which doesn't harden up as much as synthetic rubber in cold conditions.

New law has just been passed in Germany regarding winter tyres
Peter Garton posted a useful note on the V8BB. More

Are snow socks a low cost alternative to winter tyres or snow chains? More

See a winter tyres update from Chris Hunt Cooke. More

Further update. More

Updated: 14.12.10
Posted: 5.12.10

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With the exceptional snow conditions that have hit the UK and other European countries over the last week or more, many drivers have thought of winter tyres for more grip and safer driving in snow. In some countries like Norway, Sweden and now Germany, fitting winter tyres has been an annual requirement. In a V8BB posting from Peter Garton in Germany we hear that German regulations now require winter tyres. But are winter tyres worth the expense in the UK?
Chris Hunt Cooke had pondered the question and found his local tyre suppliers had seen their modest stocks of winter tyres fly out of the door over the last week with the exceptional snowfall in most parts of the UK. Just by chance on Saturday lunchtime the "Moneybox" programme on BBC Radio 4 included a short piece on winter tyres. You can listen to the programme online using the BBC IPLAYER. More
Moneybox on Radio 4, Saturday 4th December 2010
Chris Patience of the Automobile Association felt winter tyres were a good idea in remote areas like the moors in northern England and in remote areas in Scotland as they are more effective in wet and icy conditions. But one aspect that featured in the programme was the question of insurance disclosure. Malcolm Tarling of the Association of British Insurers suggested the leading insurers regard winter tyres as a good thing in winter conditions and whilst disclosure might not be required, a sensible precaution would be tell your motor insurer that winter tyres were fitted. One problem over disclosure of fitting winter tyres was included in the piece where an insurance broker seemed to feel the insured motorist needed to demonstrate the speed rating of the winter tyre was correct for the car, but this was felt to be a confusion. It did demonstrate the benefit of placing your insurances through a broker who is clued up on such matters! Another point from the programme was "get winter tyres fitted properly" and for that you will need a separate set of winter wheels.
Reflecting on the programme, one issue over the use of winter tyres in the UK is our road conditions vary considerably during winter as our weather is not consistently cold and snowy for lenghty periods (other than exceptional years and in remote areas) because conditions and temperatures can vary enormously depending on the prevailing weather systems and wind direction, frequently from the Atlantic. Presumably wear rates on winter tyres are higher on dry roads and in relatively warm winter conditons. Would one then face tyre changes when faced with warmer conditions?
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