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Why winter tyres and keeping your car on the snow up and running

Do you live in a place where in the winter is heavily snowing? Or maybe you are in the suburbs of the city or even the countryside? This will mean that when the cold time of the year comes most probably you are driving on a snowy not fully cleaned if any roads. Especially when it comes to secondary roads they are rarely having the snow completely removed. That is why you will need to equip yourself good with a nice pack of the best snow tyres also known as winter tyres, that are going to keep you up and running when you go to work, to school, for a family vacation or just a nice relaxing drive.

The reason why the winter tyres are so good and why they keep you on the road are a couple. They are designed in a way to handle the snowy and icy roads. The main reason for that is because their treads are designed in a way to have wider spacing between the blocks of them that is able to go through the snow. If it was a smaller space they wouldn’t have been able to keep the traction on the snow and you will easily lose control which is a situation you definitely don’t want to be in. As well many manufacturers are designing their tyres in a way to push the snow on the side so it doesn’t go under the tyres in the first place. Unlike the summer tyres, the winter tyres are also made for cold weather under 7 degrees Celsius because they are not getting hardened by cold temperatures. In general, their design is a bit softer so when it comes to cold weather they can have a nice grip on the road and keep you protected.

If you want to upgrade your car even to the next level of protection and traction on the ice you can buy winter tyres that are studded. Basically, this means they are going to have small, usually steel lugs that are embedded in the tyre and they are clinging on the road. This gives the driver an exceptional grip on the road even when it comes to ice because they are literally going inside of it. Keep in mind they are not as cheap as the regular but that provides the best traction necessary even for the worst secondary roads. Keep in mind though because they are indeed metal they may be made be illegal in your area since the roads can be damaged of their usage. Check the local laws for driving or just speak with a friend or mechanic that is more aware of the fact. That said studded tyres can keep you protected the best way possible this winter. 

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Winter tyres Guides

When should winter tyres be put on?

As a rule of thumb to remember: From O to E, ie from October to Easter, go best with winter tires.

Once wintry conditions prevail, you should have winter tires on your auto. But what exactly is meant by "winter conditions"? That is also clearly stated in the Road Traffic Act. As a "winter conditions" and thus trigger the obligation for snow tires apply:

  • Snow
  • Slush
  • Packed snow
  • Ice or slippery frost
  • Ice

To be sure not to be surprised by a sudden onset of winter, it is recommended that winter tires be for sale by the autumn.

If you have two sets of wheels one for winter and one for summer, you will not even have to go to the shop to have winter tyres put on.  You just need a jack and wrench. 

Summer and winter wheels ease the transition. The prerequisite is of course that not only two complete sets of tires, but also a double set of wheels is available: one for summer and one of a kind for winter tyres. 

If you have two sets of wheels (rims) no you can have one set with winter tyres on as long as you have somewhere to store them. If stored properly they should last a few seasons. 

Experts advise to replace the winter tires about every four years with new ones. Several factors can cause the tire quality to decline:

  • Wear
  • Aging of the material 
  • Tyre damage

Old, worn or even damaged tyres pose a greater risk potential. Byordered online in advance, you can expect a big savings.

But how do I know if the winter tyres from last year are still fit for next winter? Even if the tyres seem to be fine on the surface, it is best to pay attention to two things: tread depth and DOT number.

How old are my tyres? The DOT number provides that information.

Tyres are made mostly of rubber. Over time, the material hardens, resulting in a poorer grip - the tyre is then no longer any good. Therefore tyres that have never been driven, will need to be discarded after about six or seven years.

But how do I know now how old my tires are actually? Furthermore are the DOT numbers reliable information? It is stamped on each tire on the flank. Next to the DOT number can be found all sorts of other numbers and letter symbols. For the tire age only the last four (highlighted by a border) figures are relevant. The first two digits reveal the calendar week; the last two the year of manufacture.

Detect wear: Measure tread depth

In order to identify tire wear at times, it is advisable to measure the tread depth at regular intervals. It is true that each tyre also a so-called TWI, or Tread Wear Indicator. This abrasion indicator can be found next to a symbol of small triangles and the symbol TWI at the upper sidewall of the tire. Here are continuous webs to recognize the tyre remains only a residual profile of 1.6 millimeters. It should now be changed urgently.

Although actually the highway code provides for only a minimum tread depth of just 1.6 millimeters - but experts agree that this is far too little. They recommend unanimously to mount new winter tyres at a remaining profile of 4 millimeters.

In order to determine reliably whether the question 4 millimeters remaining tread are already achieved, it is therefore imperative periodically with a profile measuring device to check the tyres. In a pinch, a coin also helps: If the edge concealed by the remaining profile, everything is in order. As soon as the can  be seen, the tires must be changed.

The following brief overview summarizes the most important information and tips for measuring the tread depth once again:

  • Tread depth 1.6mm
  • TWI on tire wall
  • 4.0mm Profile meter or euro coin

The profile of winter tyres

Especially with winter tyres a good profile is essential. Finally, the tyres need to keep their grip not only in the wet but also in snow, slush and ice. For this they get from the manufacturers a special profile imprinted.

A winter tyre tread consists of the following elements:

  • Profile ribs
  • Tread blocks
  • Tread groove
  • Profile blades

A special feature of the profile of winter tyres are also the slats: small cuts in the tread blocks, often in zigzag shape. Thanks to this fine lamellae of winter tyres retains a firm hold in slippery conditions.

How do I know a good winter tyre?

The best and safest thing is to go with high quality, new tires through the winter. But how can I recognize a good winter tyre? To navigate in the comfortable and safe areas, customers can check different quality features:

  • Uniform symbols and markings of winter tyres
  • Quality standards of certain brands and manufacturers
  • Independent tyre tests

If you want to be sure that you are buying a good product, it is best to not just rely on one of those criteria but keep all three in mind.

Labelling of winter tyres

Labelling of winter tyres: Different quality standards

These can be recognized by the impression at the edge MS shortcuts, which occurs in the following variations:

  • M + S
  • M * S
  • M & S

The MS-labeling is current regulation according to the minimum standard to be met by the tyre to make winter tyres mandatory. In concrete terms, if you are driving in winter conditions with a tire which does not carry the MS symbol, you must pay a fine..

Customers are better advised to pay attention to the Alpine icon. Also called snowflake symbol, it shows the icon of a mountain with a snowflake. Only tyres that can demonstrate in performance tests an above-average traction get the sign imprinted. Anyone who buys a winter tyre with the Alpine symbol can be sure that the tyre can cope with winter challenges.

With the tips and advice of our great winter tyres guidebook you are now optimally equipped for the cold season.

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