I’m often asked by work colleagues about the efficacy of snow tyres and wether they are worth it.
By accident I have carried out an experiment to prove the hypothesis this week. I didn’t manage to get the snow tyres on our volvo V40 in the autumn for various reasons so I have had the opportunity of driving the car without snow tyres in wintry conditions. Getting the car up our short track to the road with the standard tyres proved impossible and I had to resort to snow chains. After a visit to the garage to swap across the font wheels to snow tyres (Vredstein Snowtracks) the car will go up and down the same track no problems forward and in reverse. It seems to run better with the snow tyres than the chains!
So if you want to drive in wintry conditions and don’t want to invest in four wheel drive get some snow tyres, they make a hell of a difference.
As an aside the garage I got my tyres changed at said the only recommended changing the driving wheels. I usually change all four although I did run for one winter with only two with no problems. My logic is the snow tyre compound is better at braking in cold conditions so four wheels would be better than two. Does anybody have experience on this matter?
Update (10th Jan 2009)- Lucy was driving to Aboyne today and noticed the back end of the car (without winter tyres) slipping out on a bend so it seems like snow tyres on the non driving wheels are a good thing.
Talking to Arthur at JDS today, he alerted me to the issue of speed ratings on tyres. He said he has heard of insurance companies refusing to pay out on claims where the party was driving on lower rated winter tyres than the standard summer tyres. If I was was an insurance company I’d be happier for my policy holders to drive around on lower rated snow tyres in the winter than hopeless but higher rated summer tyres, but as we know they will try to weasel out of paying out by any means.
Tyre manufacturers may suggest you may drive on lower rated tyres, but as a minimum you put a clearly visible notice warning the driver of the speed restriction on any winter tyres. For example if you had T rated tyres…
“Warning:When winter tyres fitted speed limited to 118MPH /190KPH”
It’s probably best to talk to your insurance company in advance if you are thinking of fitting winter tyres.