After the snowbound frolics of the last two winters, tyre companies marketing to customers in the UK must have thought that all their Christmases had come at once.
Finally, a chance to sell winter tyres to the UK market without being laughed out of the room.
Continental even invested in prime-time television adverts for its winter tyres and Goodyear has also put a substantial effort into marketing winter tyres to consumers, motoring journalists and to the motor trade.
I have no idea whether these and other companies have met their UK sales targets for winter tyres, but I do know that most motorists remain sceptical – even though the evidence is compelling.
In tests conducted by the British Tyre Manufacturers’ Association, a car braking at 60mph on a wet road at five degrees Celsius stopped five metres shorter, equivalent to more than one car length, when fitted with winter weather tyres. In icy and snowy conditions the differences were even more dramatic. At 30mph on snowy roads the difference increased to eight metres and on icy roads at just 20mph, the difference increased to nine metres.
As it turns out, we have not yet had anything like the snow and low temperatures of last November and December – but we are now firmly into winter and the temperature where I live is hovering just above freezing most of the time – definite winter tyre territory. It’s now cold and icy enough for me to feel a definite reduction in the amount of grip my car’s summer tyres are providing, especially on untreated rural roads.
If you are still considering whether to try winter tyres or not, the good news is that last year’s supply shortages seem to be a thing of the past. All the major online tyre retailers are still listing stock and my two local big-brand fast-fit centres are also able to supply and fit winter tyres within a few days.
I will leave you with a link to Petrolblog, where regular contributor FailCar has just fitted winter tyres to his car for the first time ever and is finding that even on icy roads, he has not had to change his driving style from summer at all…
Finally, a picture from TyreSafe, who did a cornerning comparison test between summer and winter tyres on an ice rink.
The picture tells the story – just remember that this test was conducted at just 15mph:
For the full story of the test, including a straight-line braking demonstration, watch the video: