Unfortunately, it’s that cold, icy and rather snowy time of year again, and we need to be prepared for the road conditions which the icy conditions can cause. If you want to stay safe in your vehicle, whilst also ensuring the safety of others around you, it’s important to know exactly what you are doing during the winter months.
You might think it’s the same as summer, but that would be a mistake. Put simply, the snow, rain, ice and colder temperature which winter brings requires a slightly different driving style, and therefore a slightly different set of kit for your car.
What Are Winter Car Tyres?
Tyres certainly are not just car tyres, as there are a few different types. Winter tyres differ from summer tyres in that they are made with a higher level of silica and therefore a softer rubber outer. This basically helps them be more flexible on cold and icy roads, and they are much more responsive to conditions as a result; summer tyres simply don’t do the job well enough as the rubber compounds dramatically reduce in performance in the colder conditions.
Another difference is that there is more grip to a winter tyre, thanks to more pattern and groove. Obviously, this all helps the vehicle to grip the road in ice and snow.
You might not have given much thought at all to your car tyres in terms of switching for the seasons, but consider this your warning to do so!
Whilst winter car tyres may wear slightly quicker than summer versions, they are certainly needed for safety, and that should always be your number one priority. As a side note, if you have a four wheel drive vehicle, you still need winter tyres.
Other Considerations for Winter Driving
In addition to making sure your car tyres are the correct type for the season, you should also adhere to the following advice.
- Check your oil levels are optimum whenever you go anywhere in adverse weather;
- Have an ‘emergency box’ in the boot, consisting of a warm blanket, energy bars, etc. Basically you need to have supplies to keep you warm and comfortable whilst you wait for help in the event of a break down;
- Keep two hands on the steering wheel at all times;
- Slow down before turning a corner;
- Brake on a straight road, and use the engine brake when heading downhill;
- Keep lane switching to a minimum;
- Keep around 8 times distance between yourself and the car in front in icy and snowy conditions;
- Keep a phone charger in the car, ready to fill up your phone with juice;
- Keep your journeys to a minimum in adverse conditions, and don’t venture out if you really don’t have to;
- Have your car serviced prior to winter starting, to check for any gremlins that could potentially cause a problem in bad weather;
- On snowy roads, be aware that pedestrians may be walking on the road, if they are unable to get through on the pavement.
Much of this is common sense, you’re not going to head out in six feet of snow if you don’t have to, but sometimes the weather in winter time is highly unpredictable, especially out in the countryside, away from the cities. Careful driving is a must at all times, but when you throw into the mix potentially slippery conditions, you need to be extra vigilant, especially when driving downhill.