The 2022-23 winter is set to be a markedly cold one, thanks largely to the influence of La Niña weather patterns. Given this, it’s worth doing a little bit of advanced preparation to ensure that your car is fit for the road. Among the more effective moves is to swap your tyres out for winter tyres.
When should I change?
While there’s some variation between manufacturers, it’s generally agreed that winter tyres are most effective when the temperature dips beneath seven degrees. If you’re going to be driving very early in the morning or late at night, this means that you can benefit from making the switch right now.
Winter tyres aren’t designed to be used all year round. They will suffer from reduced longevity in summer conditions, and they’ll tend to be less fuel efficient, too. So, this isn’t a change that you can make once and forget – it’s one that you’ll be making again and again in pursuit of greater efficiency.
So, what makes winter tyres different? There are a few factors to consider. The most important of these, arguably, is the material from which the tyres are made, which tend to offer greater flexibility and pliancy, even when the weather is cold. This means increased grip on the road, right from the moment you pull away.
One of the defining features of winter is that there’s going to be more precipitation sitting on the road. This means that more generous tread tends to be beneficial – it’ll allow you to distribute a greater volume of water away from the tyre. You’ll also find thin channels called ‘snipes’ on a winter tyres, which complement the work done by the thicker ones.
The minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm, which you can easily check using the edge of a 20p piece. Ideally, you should be replacing your tyres long before you hit this threshold, since you’ll experience a loss of stopping power before this point.
To get the best from your tyres, there are a few maintenance checks you’ll want to get into the habit of performing. The most important of these is to regularly re-inflate your tyres. This goes especially if you’re regularly parking up on a kerb, as the pressure on your tyres over the course of a given day will tend to tell in the end.
Finally, it’s also worth checking for obvious signs of damage. Get a torch out at the end of every Friday before you head in, and give it a ten-second inspection. If you notice any change in the way the car handles, you can be even more pro-active.