Winter Wheels & Tyres - a vital investment.
Three consecutively harsh winters have raised awareness to the safety implications associated with freezing temperatures, frost, ice and snow on Britain’s roads. Winter Wheels and Tyres are already compulsory in most European countries, particularly in northern and central Europe, and one could consider it just a “matter of time” before fitting a set becomes compulsory here in the UK too.
From October to April, temperatures regularly dip below 7°c – this is generally considered the signal to change tyres for a winter set. Winter averages in the past thirty years have been around 1°c, with a 2011 average of -1.5°c. When temperatures dip below 7°c, braking distances from 62mph (100kph) can increase by up to 5m, from 65m to 70m, when using summer or all-weather tyres. This is owing to the decreased plyability and increased stiffness in the rubber at these temperatures. As a result, they are unable to react to road surface irregularities and traction dramatically decreases.
Winter tyres are made of a different tread compound which remains more flexible at low temperatures, giving excellent contact between the tyre and the road, thus retaining traction and grip. This does not just improve safety in braking situations, but also improves the ride on the variable road surfaces and textures experienced in winter, as well as when cornering. On ice, snow and in wet conditions, winter tyres offer traction that no summer tyre can match. Using winter tyres really can help you avoid becoming another accident statistic.
The safety benefits speak for themselves. However, there are also associated cost benefits. In the UK, we often combat the Ice and Snow conditions using aggressive mineral compounds such as rock-salt/grit. This grit and salt can inevitably damage the finish of your OE or aftermarket alloy wheels. Having a second set of alloy or steel wheels for use during these conditions will increase the longevity of your vehicle’s summer wheels, and ensure they are not corroded by the salt and slush from the road. This could save you a considerable amount of money in the longer term.
Wheelwright, has developed an extensive programme of Steel and Alloy wheel & winter tyres packages to cover the winter market, with over 90% of the car park covered. Managing Director, Kevin Greer, explains: “The winter wheel market in the UK has remained latent for some time. But, with two consecutive harsh winters, the safety implications and cost benefits, people are realising the benefits of having a set of winter wheels.”
Winter Tyres Tread Compound
Winter Tyres are made from a special tread compound - the innovative formula with silica helps the tyre to remain soft and pliable in low temperatures, which ensures stable driving and braking forces on Britain's treacherous winter roads. This compound is ideal for driving on snow and/or ice and in temperatures below 7°C. However, it is not recommended to use these tyres in any other, warmer, dryer conditions as the tread is likely to deteriorate, one of the many reasons we recommend building a winter wheel and tyre package which you can bolt on and off at your discretion.
Winter Tyres Tread Pattern
Winter Tyres have a different tread pattern to traditional all weather tyres. A reinforced centre rib assures better handling performance and high speed property; multi-kerfs enhance grip and braking forces in snow and ice field. With demand for cold weather tyres expected to be high, Wheelwright is recommending early adoption to avoid any delays in getting your tyres fitted and remaining safe on the roads.
Winter Tyres Grooves
Winter Tyres have a different groove to traditional all-weather tyres. Gradually widening lateral grooves improve self-cleaning and draining abilities; whilst the zig-zagged longitudinal grooves enhance cleaning ability in snow field - small sipes in the grooves allow for a small collection of snow, ensuring better grip due to the fact snow grips snow better than rubber.
Winter Tyres Economy
Tyre economy has been a big talking point since the new EU Tyre Labelling legislation which came into play in 2011/12. As such, winter tyres should be equal to the new stringent guidelines on efficiency - more importantly, they should offer you and your vehicle equal or superior performance. The silica compound and low gravity centre of our winter tyres help to reduce rolling resistance, hydrocarbon emissions and fuel consumption. It is important to note, however, that winter tyres really should only be used in true winter conditions - their soft compound is not conducive to driving on standard roads or in temperatures above the nominated 7°C, as they will deteriorate and wear a lot quicker. This is why we recommend having your winter tyres pre-loaded onto a set of steel wheels, which you can bolt on and off when the time is right.
Winter Steel Wheel Options
Wheelwright are the nominated UK supplier of KFZ Stahlrad Steel Wheels - and we have developed a programme that covers 90% of the car park. KFZ Steel Wheels are manufactured to OE (Original Equipment) specifications - following the plans and specifications of the exact original wheels manufactured by the vehicle producer. They are vehicle specific, and the designs are based on PCD, Offset, X-Factor, Brake Clearance and other influential factors. They offer a simple, non-fussy solution and are ideal to put up with the aggressive erosives such as road salt and debris, which would otherwise damage your valuable alloy wheel investment. We fit these to our Winter Tyres to create a bolt on package.
Winter Alloy Wheel Options
Wheelwright also offer a range of winter alloy wheels chosen for their finish, style and suitability. Wheels such as the Dezent RE are ideal for winter use thanks to their simple, easy-to-clean, 5-spoke design and the innovative Nano-Tec finish which is designed to repel dirt and water and to be scratch and heat resistant. The Alcar Group in Germany have carried out stringent tests on these TÜV Approved designs and although no wheel is manufactured exclusively for use in winter, these wheels have been proven to have the most resistant finish and designs available.
Tyresafe's Winter Tyres Safety Tips
TyreSafe, the UK's leading tyre safety organisation, is dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers associated with defective or illegal tyres - and is paying particular attention to the dangers of Winter Roads.
They have produced a fantastic video demonstrating the effects of winter wheels and tyres on safety:
7 Tips for Winter Tyre Safety:
- Make sure your tyres have adequate tread depth to keep you safe and legal by taking the 20p test
- Ensure your tyres are properly inflated and checked at least once a month and before any long journeys
- Check the condition of your tyres by looking for any lumps, bulges or cracks and remove any objects embedded in the tread
- When checking the tread, pressures and condition, don't forget the spare
- Consider fitting winter weather wheels & tyres for the whole winter period. At temperatures below 7°c they provide much better safety and grip
- Remove wheels or jack the weight off any vehicles' tyres that will not be used over the winter months such as caravans, horseboxes or motorcycles
- Visit your nearest participating tyre dealer for a free tyre safety check.