Is it worth switching to winter tyres?

Posted on 31 January, 2013

With snow and ice hitting drivers hard over the last few winters, more and more people are asking if it is worth fitting winter tyres on their car.

Winter tyres will certainly improve both the braking and traction of your car in snowy conditions and, if you have a rear-wheel drive car, the benefits will be particularly noticeable. However, a large part of the decision will come down to a few key points; where do you live, how urgently do you need to use your car and can you afford them?

If you live in an area of the country that has regular snowfalls during the winter then it makes sense to have a set of winter tyres fitted, particularly if you do a lot of driving on rural roads that will not be immediately treated. Also, if you need to be able to use your car no matter what the weather then, again, winter tyres are clearly a sensible option to help keep you on the move.

Cost is a huge factor when deciding if it is worth switching to winter tyres – with a set costing upwards of £400 it is not a cheap option. You also have to factor in the cost of having them put on and then taken off in the spring. For some, the total costs will simply rule it out.

Another thing to consider when making your decision is where you will store your winter tyres when they are not on your car. Most people will simply keep them in their garage or shed, but more and more tyre dealers are offering a paid-for storage service for people who don’t have the necessary space at home.

If you do choose to put winter tyres on your car, remember to inform your car insurance company. It is unlikely to make any difference to your car insurance premium but, as with any ‘modification’ to your car, it’s important to make them aware of the change.

Also, it’s important to remember that winter tyres will not make you invincible or enable your car to drive in any amount of snow. They will help when conditions are bad, but you should not be under any illusion that once you have winter tyres fitted you can go anywhere regardless of the conditions. The normal rules about driving (or indeed not driving!) when there is heavy snow still apply.

So, is it worth switching to winter tyres? If you live in town where the roads are treated regularly and you don’t use your car very often then it is probably not worth the expense. But if you live somewhere that is regularly affected by snow, can afford the costs involved and have somewhere suitable to store the tyres over the summer then yes, it’s definitely a sensible option.