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Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

Passion, instruction, buying, care, maintenance and more, any form of vehicle discussion is welcome here
Clariman
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Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#256915

Postby Clariman » October 10th, 2019, 11:24 am

I have just ordered 2 new front tyres from Black Circles (Bridgestone Turanza T001). After placing my order, I wondered whether I should have considered winter tyres. Are winter tyres a good idea in the UK? I live in central Scotland but once a week drive up to Perth and across to Dundee. Many, many years ago I had the most horrendous snowy journey on that route and vowed never to drive in those conditions again.

If winter tyres are a good idea, can you just use winter tyres all year round? What is the downside of that?
If winter tyres are just for snow, what are the practicalities of changing them on and off?

Thanks
Clariman

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#256923

Postby Spet0789 » October 10th, 2019, 12:06 pm

Clariman wrote:I have just ordered 2 new front tyres from Black Circles (Bridgestone Turanza T001). After placing my order, I wondered whether I should have considered winter tyres. Are winter tyres a good idea in the UK? I live in central Scotland but once a week drive up to Perth and across to Dundee. Many, many years ago I had the most horrendous snowy journey on that route and vowed never to drive in those conditions again.

If winter tyres are a good idea, can you just use winter tyres all year round? What is the downside of that?
If winter tyres are just for snow, what are the practicalities of changing them on and off?

Thanks
Clariman


Winter tyres are safer below a certain temperature (I think about 7 degrees). Above that temperature they don’t perform as well as Summer tyres. Specifically they wear faster, shift water less well (hence more aqua planing) and so on.

So using them all year round in the U.K. (even in Scotland) makes you less safe for the majority of the year.

I have recently fitted some Michelin cross climate tyres which are 15% ish more expensive but claim to work all year round. So far so good in autumn, let’s see how they perform in winter. I live in the SE so nowhere near as wintry!

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#256924

Postby redsturgeon » October 10th, 2019, 12:09 pm

Clariman wrote:I have just ordered 2 new front tyres from Black Circles (Bridgestone Turanza T001). After placing my order, I wondered whether I should have considered winter tyres. Are winter tyres a good idea in the UK? I live in central Scotland but once a week drive up to Perth and across to Dundee. Many, many years ago I had the most horrendous snowy journey on that route and vowed never to drive in those conditions again.

If winter tyres are a good idea, can you just use winter tyres all year round? What is the downside of that?
If winter tyres are just for snow, what are the practicalities of changing them on and off?

Thanks
Clariman


If I lived in Scotland or the North of England and had to regularly drive no matter what the weather, I would certainly consider winter tyres. Since I live in the far South and experience bad weather perhaps a dozen times a year when I can easily decide to stay at home then I don't bother.

The tyres you have fitted are described as a "premium summer touring tyre" and as such I would suggest perhaps not ideal for you. A halfway house of "all weather" tyres exists that may be most appropriate in your case depending on your individual circumstances.

http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/20 ... ootout.htm

John

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#256928

Postby Clariman » October 10th, 2019, 12:23 pm

I really don't understand car tyres :( . There is a bewildering choice. My local garage don't have any of the right size in stock and none on back-order. Hence trying black-circles for the first time. I thought I had done well getting a 'proper' brand and buying ones that had good ratings for fuel economy and safety :(

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#256932

Postby Snorvey » October 10th, 2019, 12:34 pm

I've driven in the NE of Scotland for decades, though all weather and I've never used winter tyres.

I just drive to the conditions, make sure the tyres I have on are in good nick, and stick a shovel and a couple of old floor mats in the boot in case you get stuck.

The only time I've had problems is when I've owned rear wheel drive cars.

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#256933

Postby Dod101 » October 10th, 2019, 12:38 pm

I too live in Scotland just north of the Central Belt in a semi rural location. This debate crops up quite often here and elsewhere. I have never bothered with winter tyres and really do not think they are necessary. Mind you I drive a four wheel drive Q5 which is pretty secure. If heavy snow were forecast I would not be going very far and do not need to. Otherwise most major roads are well gritted. Last winter we had very little snow or frost for that matter. That is of course not to say that we might not get three months of it this coming winter.

Personally I worry more about lying water on the road surface. I think that is more dangerous and for that as has been said summer or year round tyres are much better than winter tyres.

I go along with Snorvey on this one.

Dod

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#256949

Postby staffordian » October 10th, 2019, 1:41 pm

From reading quite a bit about this, but not from personal experience, if I were in your position and needed to drive regularly in icy or snowy conditions I would either opt for Cross Climate type tyres (this is the name of Michelin's version but I see most larger brands now have their own offering) or I would get a new set of wheels, probably steel rather than alloy, put full winter tyres on them and swap to them between say November and March.

The latter option is probably overkill for low mileage users. Reviews I have read of Cross Climates suggest very little compromise in terms of longevity or performance so it would be my choice.

Luckily I'm retired, so if the weather is that bad, I'd just not drive :)

Staffordian

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#256950

Postby tjh290633 » October 10th, 2019, 1:43 pm

From 1961 to 1963 we lived in the Peak District and worked in Sheffield. We never missed a day getting in to work, nor getting home at night, during two of the worst and longest winters I have known. My car at the time was a VW Beetle, shod with Michelin cross-ply tyres. Michelin X were becoming available, and I changed to them after the original 5 had worn out, after about 45,000 miles, as I recall.

Having the engine above the driven wheels was a major factor, as was the practice of using the highest practicable gear. I was able to climb quite steep hills on fresh snow, as well as on packed snow, without any problem. The only problem that I saw was packed fresh snow under a Morris 1100, which stopped the wheels getting traction, because there was insufficient weight on the wheels.

All climate wheels are no doubt an advance, but driving technique is far more important. I would not bother with a set of winter wheels.

TJH

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#256954

Postby staffordian » October 10th, 2019, 2:00 pm

tjh290633 wrote:From 1961 to 1963 we lived in the Peak District and worked in Sheffield. We never missed a day getting in to work, nor getting home at night, during two of the worst and longest winters I have known. My car at the time was a VW Beetle, shod with Michelin cross-ply tyres. Michelin X were becoming available, and I changed to them after the original 5 had worn out, after about 45,000 miles, as I recall.

Having the engine above the driven wheels was a major factor, as was the practice of using the highest practicable gear. I was able to climb quite steep hills on fresh snow, as well as on packed snow, without any problem...

TJH

My first car was a Hillman Imp which shared the Beetle's rear engine and rear wheel drive layout, and that too was unstoppable in snow.

These days, of course, most cars are front engined and front wheel drive. Whilst it might seem to be similar, in that the weight of the engine is over the driven wheels, in practice it isn't as as good because when taking power, weight tends to be transferred from the front to the rear of the car, reducing grip on the driven wheels.

I used to live on an estate where our road was not gritted. There was an almost imperceptible rising gradient towards the next road, but once the snow had been compacted and then refrozen, many cars, including mine, could not tackle it.

However if I reversed up the road the car managed the slope with no problem. I suspect it was because weight transfer when reversing added weight to the front, driven, wheels, and possibly, any lips in the blocks of tread might grip better when the wheels were rotating backwards.

So whilst I'd not suggest reversing everywhere as an alternative to winter tyres, it might occasionally get you out of trouble :)

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#257082

Postby djbenedict » October 11th, 2019, 9:41 am

It totally depends on the car.

From personal experience, on a rear wheel drive car with traction control, normal summer tyres are un-drivable in icy conditions. As in, can't go up the slightest slope. Normally when you turn the traction control 'off', it's not really off; so one or both of the back wheels slip and immediately the car reduces power to the slipping wheel(s). Result: you don't go anywhere. However, fitting winter tyres completely solves the problem. (Had this experience in both a BMW and a Mercedes).

For a 4x4, all weather tyres seem to suffice so far, drove around cars sliding on the slope of the station car park no problem 2 winters ago.

No experience of front wheel drive cars.

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#257086

Postby JoyofBricks8 » October 11th, 2019, 9:57 am

3 winters in snowy, mountainous Deutschland with mandatory winter tyre use. Locals kept two sets of tyres, summers on alloys, winters on steel rims. The local garage would store them for you and swap when required for a few euros. It’s a good opportunity to switch worn tyres around for even wear.

Summer tyres= Useless in any significant snow, lethal at speed in snow/ice.

4wd +winter tyres > Winter tyres > 4wd when there is snow and ice around!

Oh, and snow chains are a pain that you always leave too late. You end up kneeling in deep drifts on a mountainside in the dark wishing you had put them on way before you started sliding off the road.

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#257159

Postby Lootman » October 11th, 2019, 2:03 pm

JoyofBricks8 wrote:snow chains are a pain that you always leave too late. You end up kneeling in deep drifts on a mountainside in the dark wishing you had put them on way before you started sliding off the road.

The Americans have the right idea about this. On major roads as you approach a mountain pass there is a gang of guys with a supply of chains at the side of the road waving you over. They then attach the chains without you leaving the vehicle. As you exit the pass on the other side, another gang takes them off. No need to actually have chains with you and no need to get out of your warm vehicle.

If you are in an AWD vehicle then they just wave you past.

The free market always finds a way.

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#257162

Postby Dod101 » October 11th, 2019, 2:28 pm

JoyofBricks8 wrote:3 winters in snowy, mountainous Deutschland with mandatory winter tyre use. Locals kept two sets of tyres, summers on alloys, winters on steel rims. The local garage would store them for you and swap when required for a few euros. It’s a good opportunity to switch worn tyres around for even wear.

Summer tyres= Useless in any significant snow, lethal at speed in snow/ice.

4wd +winter tyres > Winter tyres > 4wd when there is snow and ice around!

Oh, and snow chains are a pain that you always leave too late. You end up kneeling in deep drifts on a mountainside in the dark wishing you had put them on way before you started sliding off the road.


But we are not thinking of Deutschland. The OP writes of Central Scotland.

Dod

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#257170

Postby PhaseThree » October 11th, 2019, 3:00 pm

I ran winter tyres when living in Switzerland but dont now I'm back in the UK. Winter tyres give increased grip and better stopping performance below 7C but suffer from increased wear once the temperature rises above 12C. In a continental climate this isn't a problem as the temperature stays below 7C from October to March, but 12C in the maritime climate of the UK is not uncommon at at any time of year.
In my view a far better compromise is the All Season/CrossClimate types

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#257193

Postby kiloran » October 11th, 2019, 4:16 pm

I'm in west-central scotland and my front-wheel drive cars for the past 11 years have been shod with factory-fitted Continental Sport Contact tyres. I've never been over-impressed with them, especially in light snow, so last year I replaced them with Michelin Cross Climate. Not much snow to test them, but what we have had, they seemed to provide much better traction. The car has fairly low-profile tyres which doesn't help.... not my preference, but it was a choice of getting immediate delivery of a model ex-stock at a decent price, or waiting 15-20 weeks for delivery and less of a discount.

I think cars in the 60s and 70s were better in snow due to the much narrower tyres. Fashions have changed for the worse.

--kiloran

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#257243

Postby AF62 » October 11th, 2019, 8:42 pm

kiloran wrote:last year I replaced them with Michelin Cross Climate. Not much snow to test them, but what we have had, they seemed to provide much better traction.


I put Michelin CrossClimate on my last car and will be putting them on the current one when they need replacing. They are a very good compromise, they are a summer tyre not an all-season tyre, but designed to cope well with wet weather and with occasional snow. So really British weather!

I was really impressed with the improvement in stopping ability in the rain, and the couple of winters we had some snow (the usual settling and packed down on the side roads, slush on the main), the car never missed a beat. Whereas with the previous tyres (can't remember the brand) I got stuck in a car park in similar conditions on a very slight slope.

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#257304

Postby tsr2 » October 12th, 2019, 8:55 am

kiloran wrote:I'm in west-central scotland and my front-wheel drive cars for the past 11 years have been shod with factory-fitted Continental Sport Contact tyres. I've never been over-impressed with them, especially in light snow, so last year I replaced them with Michelin Cross Climate. Not much snow to test them, but what we have had, they seemed to provide much better traction. The car has fairly low-profile tyres which doesn't help.

I put my first CrossClimate tyres on a month or three before "the beast from the east" and they allowed me to negotiate ungritted hilly roads that were unmanageable in previous heavy snow. They were quite useful last winter as well. In summer conditions they handle like a premium summer tyre and in icy conditions there is enough grip that my main concern is that they could make me over confident. £105 per corner from my local garage is comparable to the Continentals they replaced. I would need a lot of convincing to use any other tyre.

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#257320

Postby Mark66 » October 12th, 2019, 10:41 am

kiloran wrote:I think cars in the 60s and 70s were better in snow due to the much narrower tyres. Fashions have changed for the worse.

I couldn't agree more, I came to the same conclusions. The wider tyres on modern cars distribute the weight over a larger area and the tyre does not seem to penetrate through, just slips on the top surface.
(The best evidence I have is from a friend who drove a morris minor until recently, he never got stuck in snow when loads of modern cars around him did)

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#257391

Postby redsturgeon » October 12th, 2019, 4:02 pm

Mark66 wrote:
kiloran wrote:I think cars in the 60s and 70s were better in snow due to the much narrower tyres. Fashions have changed for the worse.

I couldn't agree more, I came to the same conclusions. The wider tyres on modern cars distribute the weight over a larger area and the tyre does not seem to penetrate through, just slips on the top surface.
(The best evidence I have is from a friend who drove a morris minor until recently, he never got stuck in snow when loads of modern cars around him did)


I can confirm this, although my 1959 Morris Minor was appalling at cornering in the wet, for some strange reason it was fine in snow.

John

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Re: Winter Tyres in the UK. A good idea? Practicalities

#257449

Postby AF62 » October 12th, 2019, 8:44 pm

kiloran wrote:I think cars in the 60s and 70s were better in snow due to the much narrower tyres. Fashions have changed for the worse.


They may have been better in the snow, but for everything else they were far worse. So for the two days it snows every three or four years, I will take modern tyres and leave the car in the drive when the white stuff is on the ground!


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