Winter tyres on an MGBGTV8

Gordon Hesketh-Jones uses his V8 all the year round and for touring in the UK and in Mainland Europe and it has clocked up around 320,000 miles making a total of well over 400,000 miles on his MGBGTV8. He finds the sense of improved grip from Winter tyres a real benefit when driving on cold wet roads. He has two sets of V8 wheels so when the warmer weather returns the set with Summer tyres is used again.

See our Information Gateway on replacement tyres for an MGV8. More

Reading tyre sidewall markings. More

Updated: 130121
Posted: 130110

The prime requirement of a proper Winter tyre is that the tyre walls in particular must remain supple etc below consistent temperatures of 7C and such tyres will normally have deeper treads with wider grooves than normal Summer tyres. A genuine Winter tyre will have been tested by Government bodies and carry the "snowflake" badge on the side-wall. It should be noted that the old "M & S" tyres (Mud & Snow) might have even deeper/wider grooves in the tread pattern, but in general will not pass the 7C test. For MGB V8 owners it is advisable to obtain the agreement of
your insurers prior to the fitting of Winter tyres which in general have a "T" speed rating (118mph) compared to the "H" tyres (130mph) fitted as standard to the MGB V8GT.
My tyres are the Dutch Vredestein SnowTrac tyres which have a strong tread pattern with deep grooves easily capable of cutting through standing water as well as mild snow. As our various Winter journeys were all going to involve maximum luggage carrying, I opted for tyres with a "95" load factor instead of the standard "88" versions. (88 version for up to 560kg load, 95 for up to 690Kg). A useful benefit of the Vredestein Snow Trac tyres is that they are around 1" greater in diameter than the standard (Summer) tyres, giving a slight increase both in chassis ride height and in the overall gearing/fuel economy. On "Summer" tyres 5th gear in my LT77 gearbox equates to 28.7mph, but on the Vredestein tyres to exactly 30mph, in both cases these being calculated by maintaining a steady 2000rpm and noting the road speed on the Sat Nav. A set of four such Winter tyres will cost around £330 fitted, but well worth the investment if you are planning a reasonable amount of Winter driving and have a spare set of V8 wheels.

Vredestein Snowtrac 3 declared test winner in the leading European Winter tyre test
The Snowtrac 3 has been declared the Test Winner in the most important Winter tyre test in Europe! Every year the German ADAC, Switzerland's Touring Club Schweiz and the ÖAMTC from Austria organise a major winter tyre test. These motoring associations, equivalent to the Netherlands' ANWB, are leaders both in their own country and abroad. The Winter tyre test which they organise is therefore a highly prestigious event every year. Together with 20 other Winter tyres from competitors, the Vredestein Snowtrac 3 Winter tyre was subjected to various tests and came out as the top performer! This result earned the Snowtrac 3 the title “Highly Recommended”.

Vredestein Snowtrac 3
Category: Car TyresTyre Type: Tread Type: Directional. The intelligent tread with its innovative, stepped circumferential groove enhances the diagonal grip on wet and snowy surfaces. Tapered diagonal grooves mean the tyre also has self-cleaning properties. Features excellent winter performance and maximum grip on wet and dry roads, maximum water dispersal, excellent self-cleaning of snow and slush., low noise production in compliance with all European regulations and superior handling.

Members' comments on the V8 Bulletin Board thread

Peter Garton in Germany
Gordon's information is excellent. Since we always put the winter tyres on our cars in Germany, we take heed of the test results published by several institutions such as the ADAC. Their tests are very comprehensive and encompass traction in snow, wet and dry conditions with much emphasis on braking distances at varying temperatures. I'm not sure whether I've mentioned this in earlier threads, but if one has any form of accident in snowy conditions and snow tyres have not been fitted here in Germany, firstly the insurance will not pay for your incurred damage and there will be also a hefty fine imposed by the police. 130111

Gordon Hesketh-Jones in Cornwall
There has been a long series of letters in Autocar about Winter Tyres, and the majority viewpoint now is to use them all year round which, provided you don’t plan to consistently drive at over 117mph, scrape the door-handles on the road or try too many four-wheel drifts on tarmac, is perfectly safe. The rubber compound is slightly softer than conventional Summer tyres so there should be greater all-round grip – but also faster tyre wear and possibly, with the deeper tread greater tyre noise (not that you tend to hear the tyre noise in an MG V8 of any type!) The great cost saving in running Winter tyres all year round of course is that it avoids the cost of buying and storing an additional set of tyres and wheels although at around £330 for a set of 4 Vredestein Snow-Tracs our tyres are cheap compared to the £421 for just one rear tyre for an Alpina BMW D5!

Another interesting alternative is to use the new family of ALL-WEATHER tyres such as the Vredestein Quatrac 3 or the Hankook OPTIMO K715 – these are said to cope with 7C etc although several internet pages praise the all-season grip but complain of high tyre wear. 130120

Peter Garton in Germany
Your are quite correct, Gordon, in that the compound used in the winter tyre is softer and excessive wear will be incurred if one uses them all year round. In addition the noise is a serious issue actually. When they wear down, they can become a nuisance regarding that noise. Another aspect is the tread depth which should and I repeat "should" have a minimum depth of 3-4 millimeters to cope with snow conditions. If you use them during the summer this aspect is lost and potentially quite a negative when you get stuck in deeper snow somewhere.

The other point I would like to mention is that socalled "all weather" tyres are not really suitable for snow and ice. They cannot function favourably compared with a genuine winter tyre (with that snowflake on the wall). I would add that if one lives in an area in the Uk with little or no snow, they could be a suitable alternative of course. 130120

Chris Gabriel in Argyl, Scotland
I have used winter tyres every year since 1997. Up until 2006 or so I used Vredestein and found them to be excellent. Then I was unable to find any and instead bought Continental winter tyres. I have stayed with these since. They are 185/65/14 on a Peugeot diesel. These are also excellent. The main reason I buy them is for their vastly superior performance on Motorways in the rain, especially if there is standing water. At 70 mph there is no aquaplaning. In snow and ice and cold conditions they are also vastly superior to ordinary tyres. Braking and handling and traction are so much better. I found the 14" Continental winter tyre to wear perhaps 10% more than the standard Continental, and the winter tyre was actually quieter than the standard one. Fuel consumption is roughly the same.

As has been stated before on this wesite one MUST fit winter tyres to all four wheels. Do not be tempted to fit only two. The winter tyres have so much more grip that if only two winter tyres are fitted the car will be skidding all over the place. It is safer to fit zero winter tyres than it is to fit two. Most of the winter tyres are uni directional only. So it is best to carry Holts tyre repair mousse or similar in case one picks up a puncture.

With regard to the tyre tests carried out it should be realised that the results are for a particular size of tyre on a particular car only. The results may vary if the 'winning' tyre is fitted to a different size wheel on a different car.

I have had three different makes of winter tyres, the third being Michelin winter tyres fitted to the MGB. All have been excellent. I also run a Land Rover Discovery, used mainly for towing duties and for farm/forestry roads, on standard 4x4 tyres. If it is snowing or icy I will always take the Peugeot with winter tyres as although the front wheel drive traction is not quite as good as the Discovery, the braking and handling on winter tyres is so much better than on the Discovery with 4x4 tyres.
There is little extra expense in using winter tyres . Once one has bought the extra set of tyres then one has two sets of tyres that will do more or less twice the mileage. The only aditional cost is of either having them changed in the spring or buying an extra set of wheels. Using steel wheels during the winter saves the expensive alloys from being corroded by the road salt. It is probably too late now to buy winter tyres, but if the guy in the Audi is driving quite normally up the icy hill with a smug grin with everybody else stuck at the bottom, it is not because he is a great driver , its the tyres. 130121
Copyright reserved by the V8 Register