Preparing your tyres for winter

As a country, we don’t cope well with snowfall. When the weather starts to turn towards the sub zeros, even the tiniest bit of snow can send the country tumbling into panic mode – but you can avoid this by being well-prepared for winter. 

Each year, a huge amount of vehicular damage, property damage and a long list of grievous injuries and even fatalities occur as a result of drivers failing to ready their car for icy, hazardous conditions. 

Preparing your tyres for winter is an important step that all vehicle owners should undertake each year, and ensuring that your tyres are in excellent condition will help keep you safe against the likes of snow, rain, leaves, strong winds and black ice while out on the road. 

We’ve compiled a list of top winter tyre checks and commonly asked questions so that you can be safe in the knowledge you’re all set once the colder season starts and temperatures begin to chill. 

Winter tyre checks

It’s all well and good owning and fitting winter tyres once the cold weather rolls around, but especially if these tyres have been in storage for months on end, you must check their condition before going anywhere in your vehicle. 

Aspects of tyres that you should inspect include:

Tyre tread

To ensure that your tyres are delivering optimum performance when it comes to grip and stopping power, your tread depth should be checked for any signs of damage and wear. Of course, by law, your tread depth should be at least 1.6mm, but when it comes to winter the more grip you have the better.

The best winter tyres should be a little deeper, and so we would recommend a tread depth anywhere between 6mm and 8mm to ensure maximum gripping and stopping power. 

Tyre pressure

Next up on our checklist – tyre pressure. Air contracts when conditions become colder, meaning that the volume in your tyres will decrease in winter. To accommodate for this, all-weather tyres and winter variants incorporate natural rubber which boasts greater flexibility than your average tyre. This means that when the air in your tyres does decrease, the tyres will deflate slightly too. For more information on this, browse our post on understanding tyre pressures

Damage and debris

One of the biggest problems concerning winter wheels and tyres is damage and debris. To avoid either of these issues become a factor that results in the need for new tyres, regular checks are the best means of prevention. 

One of the first steps you should take when preparing your tyres for winter is a full inspection of the tyre’s surface. Look out for the likes of gravel, grit, sand and stones within the treads; although these may seem small and trivial, with the fluctuating temperatures they can soon create tears and punctures in the tyre. A quick hose down with water and soap will ensure that your tyres are in tip-top condition and ready to offer you the best performance out on the road. 

Of course, while you’re there, you should also keep an eye out for any embedded glass, nails and the like which can also result in serious damage to your tyres. 

Fluctuating temperatures

Last but by no means least, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the temperatures before undertaking a journey. As touched upon earlier, the rubber in your standard road tyres will harden in colder temperatures, impacting the durability as well as the grip and performance. 

The natural, flexible rubber included in winter tyres retains its elasticity in freezing temperatures, meaning that the rubber remains durable and continues to provide excellent grip and stopping performance however cold things get.

For more tips, information and advice, browse the Green Flag tyres blog page.