Rushing out for winter tyres? No need
By Martin Wedge, MD of OVL Group
Thursday, February 5, 2015 - 12:00
Just stay at home
Now is the winter of our discount tyres… or is it? Martin Wedge, MD of OVL Group, argues otherwise
Many parts of the UK have ‘endured’ an icing sugar dusting of snow over the past month – or, if you in the south-east, suffered through scenes from ‘The Day After Tomorrow’
“Quick, reach for the winter tyres!” say some – mainly the tyre companies – but would it be better to simply get a grip and tread more carefully?
The rubber used in winter tyres is designed to work specifically below temperatures of seven degrees because the compound won’t harden when the temperature drops, reducing the risk of aqua-planing and improving braking distance. The profile is flatter so more of the tyre width touches the surface, helping to pull through difficult terrains like thick mud and snow, and the addition of sipes – the tiny zigzag-shaped slits in the rubber – gives the tyre extra grip, even on the most slippery surfaces.
That’s the science bit and sales pitch. However, my argument is that because we don’t live on the Russian Steppes or near some Finnish fjord, shouldn’t we avoid the unnecessary expense that UK drivers can live without?
Yes, there have been some severe ‘dumpings’ in recent winters, but in these technology driven days it is better to take a ‘snow day’ and work at home rather than put yourself and other road users at risk by venturing out.
Winter-specific tyres are a legal requirement in Stockholm, but not in Stockport and this is because Sweden endures prolonged periods of extreme winter conditions. Britain, conversely, is affected by extremely slippery weather for approximately five per cent of the year. They are an expensive luxury with no justifiable benefit in slushy Slough or sleety Surrey, especially when you are looking at a conservative bill of at least £500 for all four corners of the vehicle.
As our weather changes from relatively mild to milder, when do you change them back? The temptation would be to keep them on, even though they serve no purpose, in warmer weather just to get the value out of them!
If I’m generous, make the investment if you live in the Scottish Highlands or a remote area which time and road gritters have forgotten. Otherwise, just stay safe and stay at home – there are few bosses that would insist on you taking to the road in bad weather, unless they have a penchant for prosecution under the corporate manslaughter laws.
Martin Wedge is Managing Director at OVL Group, a specialist car leasing firm.