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Winter Tyres

montage of winter driving images

Unlike mainland Europe, the UK does not have a long history of using winter tyres. However, our recent harsh winters have shown how valuable winter tyres can be. Over the past few years we have seen extreme weather conditions during the winter months.

The plummeting temperatures, difficult driving conditions and images of stranded motorists are hard to forget. In fact, Met Office statistics show that 2010 was our coldest winter for over 30 years and December was one of the coldest UK Decembers since records began.

With winter tyres supplied and fitted from only £45, protect your car today by calling our Parts Department for a quote.

Did you know that you and your customers are six times more likely to have an accident in your vehicle during winter? Leaves on wet roads, as well as snow and ice, create hazardous driving conditions and increase road accidents by as much as 267 per cent.

That’s the equivalent of 7000 more accidents than at other times of the year.

In fact, during the big freeze at the start of 2010 more than three million motorists had an accident and 45 per cent had two or more near misses, according to a survey by Continental Tyres.

The graph below shows the link between typical winter driving conditions and accident rates (Source: Continental Tyres).

annual temperature graph

Other recent statistics indicate the cold weather in 2010 resulted in more than £1billion-worth of vehicle insurance claims.

The impact of bad weather is significant.

What are the benefits?

  • Superior compounds, more engineered to temperatures below seven degrees Celsius
  • Improved traction for acceleration, braking and steering over summer tyres
  • Can be used continuously from October to March
  • Increase summer tyre life: wear on summer tyres can be up to 20 per cent greater in colder temperatures
  • Can be driven on snow, ice and tarmac
  • A legal requirement in some European countries
  • Easy to fit in October and remove in March. Customer has the option to change wheels themselves
  • If work completed at a Retailer, customer could benefit from express visual health check of their car, tyre pressure, tread and ensuring each wheel is torqued to the manufacturer’s specification for safety

When should they be used?

Cold weather tyres are more effective than summer tyres when temperatures dip below seven degrees Celsius. In the UK, this can be from October to March, especially as most people are driving to and from work in the early mornings and late afternoons when temperatures are lower than the daily average.

According to the Department of Transport 78 per cent of road traffic accidents in the UK are caused by skidding. Of these, 67 per cent happen in wet or wintery conditions that are ideally suited to winter tyres.

Per cent of total UK vehicle accidents caused by skidding

Winter 48%
Dry 11%
Wet 19%

Source: Department of Transport 2003 (Tyres and accessories 8/2004)

Winter tyres improve braking performance and could stop you from becoming one of the millions of motorists who have accidents because of poor weather and bad driving conditions. If you think about how much an accident would cost you, from insurance excess to recovery costs, investing in a set of winter tyres makes plenty of sense.

As well as helping straight-line braking, winter tyres have significantly more grip due to their unique tread compound.

You also get extra grip because the tyres have sipes and because of their tread pattern, which has more tread blocks than a standard summer tyre. The extra grip also helps return better fuel economy and leads to less tyre wear.

Summer tyre wear increases as temperatures decrease. In fact, at ten degrees Celsius a summer tyre can have a five per cent higher wear rate than a cold weather tyre. At colder temperatures, the wear rate can be up to 20 per cent higher.

However, when morning temperatures start averaging over seven degrees Celsius, usually from March onwards, summer tyres should be used. At 20-25 degrees Celsius cold weather tyres can have a 15 per cent higher wear rate than summer tyres.

And don’t forget, when your winter tyres are fitted you won’t use your summer tyres, saving you six months of wear and increasing the lifetime of the rubber.

How do winter and summer tyres differ?

No matter what you drive, temperature is crucial to tyre performance. When the thermometer drops below 7°C the tread compound in standard tyres begins to harden and gives progressively less grip.

Winter tyres are made with a higher natural rubber content that keeps them softer and more flexible in cold weather conditions. They also have a different tread pattern which maintains their highly effective contact with the road for greater traction.

A squarer shoulder profile with defined shoulder-blocks helps winter tyres pull through tough conditions like ice and snow. The addition of sipes gives winter tyres extra ‘edges’ to grip, too, even on the most slippery surfaces.

Finally, the special tread pattern is particularly effective on snow, ice and slush. Snow sticks to itself better than rubber – narrow channels between the blocks trap snow in the tread, where it can ‘stick’ to the snow on the road to aid grip.

SEAT is supporting the campaign with a brief demonstration video in which near-identical Ibizas – one equipped with summer tyres and the other sporting winter rubber – are driven on an ice rink. Watch the video to see what happened.

No matter what you drive, temperature is crucial to tyre performance. When the thermometer drops below 7°C the tread compound in standard tyres begins to harden and gives progressively less grip.

Winter tyres are made with a higher natural rubber content that keeps them softer and more flexible in cold weather conditions. They also have a different tread pattern which maintains their highly effective contact with the road for greater traction.

winter tyre

A squarer shoulder profile with defined shoulder-blocks helps winter tyres pull through tough conditions like ice and snow. The addition of sipes gives winter tyres extra ‘edges’ to grip, too, even on the most slippery surfaces.

Finally, the special tread pattern is particularly effective on snow, ice and slush. Snow sticks to itself better than rubber – narrow channels between the blocks trap snow in the tread, where it can ‘stick’ to the snow on the road to aid grip.

SEAT is supporting the campaign with a brief demonstration video in which near-identical Ibizas – one equipped with summer tyres and the other sporting winter rubber – are driven on an ice rink. Click the play button below to watch it.

When carrying out an emergency stop at just 15 mph the car with summer tyres took four metres longer to stop – almost a full vehicle length.

Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe, said: “For any driver concerned about their safety on the road during the winter, our advice is simple: winter weather tyres are the safest option.

“Take a look at the SEAT demonstration movie and then you can make an informed choice about whether to fit them or not, but I’m sure most will agree that the results are very convincing – and the potential outcome is frightening.”

Read ROSPA’s guide to winter driving [PDF]

Nigel Griggs, Head of Aftersales at SEAT UK explained: “The value of winter tyres really cannot be overestimated.

“Research from one tyre manufacturer suggests drivers may be as much as six times more likely to have an accident in the winter than the summer, so waiting for the first snowfall before making the switch could be a major false economy.

“The time to act is now, and W Livingstone Ltd are fully prepared to help owners choose not only exactly the right winter tyre for their vehicle but also to handle the fitting process and even suggest transport options for their summer tyres.”

Snow socks

Snow socks are available from our Parts Department from only £55 inc. VAT. Please call our Parts Department on 01698 255055 to place your order – we’ll even post them out to you if you wish!

What are they?

Snocks snow socks

Snow socks are a durable fabric sock that fits over the wheel to enable traction on icy and snow-covered roads.

What are the benefits?

  • Improved traction for driving, braking and cornering: 98% as efficient as snow chains
  • Designed for front and rear, and four-wheel drive and should only be fitted to the relevant drive wheels
  • Low-cost alternative to winter tyres and snow chains
  • Lightweight and compact, can be kept in the glovebox
  • Warranty is a two-year parts defect warranty
  • – Two snow socks are included, one for each wheel

snow sokcs

When should they be used?

They should only be used on snowy and icy roads and should be removed before driving on tarmac. When they are used, the car must be driven as slowly and smoothly as possible and no faster than 40 mph.

Special care must be taken if snow socks are not fitted to all four wheels, as traction for wheels without snow socks will be less than those fitted with snow socks.

Excessive wheel slipping or spin, harsh and sudden braking and excessive driving speed could all lead to premature wear and potential failure of snow socks.

We recommend that customers practise fitting snow socks before there is a real need for them to do so.

Download the Snow Sock Application Guide [PDF]

Snow socks should always be removed when the vehicle is parked to stop the material sticking to the snow or ice.

W Livingstone Ltd can offer winter tyres and other handy winter accessories such as SEAT-approved spare bulb and fuse kits, windscreen washer concentrate, de-icer and incident safety kits. For more information and costs of winter tyres, snow socks or any other winter accessories, telephone our Parts Department on 01698 225 055

Resources [PDFs]