Winter is definitely here. With the rain becoming a part of the daily scene and the temperature dropping to 32degrees Fahrenheit, soon enough, we’ll start seeing the Highlands covered in silky, white snow. And like we mentioned in a previous blog about preparing your car for the winter, it might be time to change your tyres into winter or snow tyres.
But when do change and how do you pick the tyres you should change into?
Although most Scotts do indeed change to winter tyres, a new study suggests we’re doing it at the wrong time.
The frigid outdoor temperatures and the snow buildup on the road are clear signs to change into winter tyres. However, since most of us are on all-season tyres, we’d change to snow tyres only when we get stuck once on the road when the snow is already too thick.
Given their name, all-season tyres are made to perform year-round in moderate weather conditions. While they provide combined benefits from both summer and winter tyres, or some even for muddy road conditions, they are not actually ideal for drivers battling extreme cold, ice, and snow. Even the best all-season tyres would succumb to low temperatures, causing the tyres to harden and lose a significant amount of grip.
And when that happens, other safety features of your car like anti-lock brakes would fail. So if you are in the Highlands where snow is always a part of the winter season or even when it’s just freezing and dry outside, be sure to change to winter tyres. And it’s so easy to do so when you check in your cars here at IT Garage Inverness.
Winter Tyres – Basics
Winter tyres are made with resilient rubber compounds designed to stay flexible in the cold. It also has deep treads that quickly channel snow away from the tyres. Sipes of winter tyres, on the other hand, are designed to grab the road and packed snow.
Compared to all-season tyres, winter tyres can provide you with the following benefits when driving on a frozen or snow-covered road:
- A sense of safety and security to get where you need to go
- Increased grip ability to stop and start on a hill
- Maximize abrupt stopping power
- Capability to effectively maneuver in low temperatures, deep snow, and icy roads
Winter Tyres – When to Switch
Generally, we would recommend you to change into winter tyres once the temperature drops below 45°F. These days, we are already in a constant 32degrees Fahrenheit temperature, so before you go on a long trip, be sure to have our tyres and auto experts of Inverness check on your tyre condition.
It’s also important to consider the time of day you are driving—daily highs might read well over 50°F, but given your early morning and evening commute, temperatures could be below 45°F at those times. For those in summer tyres, you should change to winter tyres once temperatures consistently drop below 50°F.
All Season Tyres – Will It Suffice?
We already talked about this earlier, pointing out that all-season tyres can’t withstand extreme winter conditions. If you’re driving on snowy or icy roads, only winter tyres will give you good stopping ability and secure handling. This is because they’re built very differently.
All-season tyres are made with a stiffer rubber compound which you don’t want during the winter. This design helps a tyre retain its shape when rolling on a hot road. Meanwhile, winter tyres are made with hydrophilic rubber which stays softer and more pliable in winter weather. This more flexible rubber is one reason you get more traction on snow and ice.
Do you see the logic? When you have a stiff tyre and it rolls on a slippery, frozen road, the chance for grip is lesser. It will skid and slip.
Another difference is the tread design. Winter tyres have a higher “void-to-lug” ratio where you will see larger grooves between the treads. The tread blocks also have irregular, sharp edges to cut through and scoop the snow out of the tyre surface. All-season tyres don’t have this kind of feature.
Tyre Chains or Winter Tyres?
While tyre chains can be important for traction on snowy mountains, they are not made for driving at highway speed. Hence, chains are not substitutes for winter tyres.
When To Switch Back to Regular Tyres
Similar guidelines should be followed when switching out of winter tyres. When the temperature constantly rises above 45°F each night, then it will be a good time to switch back to your old tyre.
To ensure you are following best practices for switching in and out of winter tires, consult with our tyre and auto Inverness experts at IT Garage to see if it’s a fine time to switch back to the old tyre.
Final Thoughts on Changing to Winter Tyres
All-season tyres maybe marketed to work well in winter but keep in mind that they do ONLY when the climate is mild. Once the snow starts piling up on the road, it will be difficult to keep your traction. Your life will be in danger as well.
You’ll only get confident traction, braking and control on snow and ice with a winter tyre. Here in the Highlands, as we snow most of the winter time, it’s safer to shift to winter tyres. Don’t risk it.
Visit the nearest car garage in Inverness today or opt to come to IT Garage and we’ll help you in changing your tyres.