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When the temperature gets really cold, it’s time to switch to winter tyres

22nd February 2019



It’s no Beast from the East, but already, the UK has experienced some rather chilly weather over the last month. And we can’t imagine February is going to bring sunshine and warmth with it, either… the change in temperature from autumn to winter can affect a lot, such as the standards of the roads and, of course, our reliance on the de-icer comes out a lot more frequently.

This change in weather is also true for many motorists, as they ponder switching from summer tyres to winter tyres.

Surprised? At Merityre, we’re not. We know from experience that many drivers mistakenly believe that winter tyres are only for snowy conditions. The reality of switching tyres is somewhat different. In fact, the really important reason for changing from summer to winter tyres is the drop in temperature.

It’s true. Once it gets down to 7°C and below, your usual summer tyres just aren’t able to perform at their optimum level, and that means they’re unable to deliver the shorter stopping distances you really need in cold, wet driving conditions.

What are ‘cold weather tyres’?

In an ideal world, winter tyres would be called ‘cold weather tyres’, but for some unknown reason the term – much more accurate – has never caught on. It’s something that premium tyre manufacturer, Continental, are actively trying to change. They believe that UK motorists should be as informed as possible when it comes to their driver safety, and that it’s vital for them to clearly understand the real reasons why it makes sense to change to winter tyres – something that the team at Merityre agree with.



So, what actually is the difference between summer and winter tyres?

The simple answer is that it’s all down to the compounds that the respective tyres are made from. Summer and winter tyres are made from completely different combinations of natural and synthetic materials, and that means they perform in different ways. Winter tyre compounds are engineered to be more pliable and flexible in colder temperatures. As a result, they deliver more of a superior grip than summer tyres when it gets down to 7°C and below.

There’s the design, engineering and materials selection of all the different tyre manufacturers to consider too. Each of them develop their own compound in a way that is unique to them. As a result, no two compounds are the same, and this means that not all tyres are the same. If you progress this reality, you come to realise that ultimately, some tyres are much better than others.

Premium tyre manufacturers, like Continental, are renowned for providing UK drivers with superior tyres, because they spend millions each year on research and development, which means they’re forever improving their tyre designs and compounds. This is of great benefit to drivers, as it means the performance and safety characteristics of tyres continually gets better and better, and that means we’re all safer on the road.



Simply put, high quality premium tyre winter compounds, and good tread depth, combine to help keep motorists safer on the road – especially in cold, wet driving conditions.

This commitment to driver safety is encapsulated by the best winter tyres – Continental’s now legendary WinterContact™ TS 860 – which has just been named by Auto Express as their Winter Tyre Test Winner 2018 – the third straight year that they’ve awarded this much coveted accolade to the tyre.

And with the recent release of Continental’s even better WinterContact™ TS 860 S tyre, UK drivers who fit this masterpiece of winter tyre engineering will enjoy an even safer driving experience, with shorter stopping distances, superior road grip, and enhanced performance during the colder months.



When it comes to switching tyres, timing is crucial

The British weather is fickle, and often unpredictable. One day it can seem as if it’s freezing, the next change to a mild spring-like day – and then back again! It’s often a guessing game, right? Temperature makes all the difference to the performance of both summer and winter tyres. Having the wrong tyres on your vehicle – in relation to the prevailing temperature – will negatively affect their ability to provide optimum grip.

If you fit winters while it’s too warm, it will not only undermine the tyres’ performance, but also lead to a noticable increase in rolling resistance. As a result, you’ll end up spending more on fuel, and sustain an unnecessary increase in tyre wear. For these reasons, it’s vital to make sure you only switch to winter tyres when the temperature is settled at 7°C and below.

Likewise, when you start to notice the temperature getting consistently warmer – 7°C and above – continue to monitor proceedings, and when you’re confident the warmth is here to stay, switch back to summer tyres.

To some drivers, this may seem a lot of trouble to go to, but the tyre experts at Merityre know from experience that the benefits of fitting the right equipment to your vehicle for the right driving conditions far outway the risks of driving on tyres that may not provide you with the necessary grip – and therefore shorter stopping distances – that you really need in the cold months.



Talk to Merityre about switching to winter tyres

Thinking of switching to winter tyres? Talk to Merityre. Our experienced, dedicated tyre professionals can answer any questions you may have, and provide you with expert, impartial tyre advice. We can also offer you the best winter car tyres, and fitting solutions for SUVs, 4x4s and vans. Find your nearest Merityre fast-fit centre here.