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How Do Winter Tyres Work? – Preparing for Winter Driving

This is the time of year when a lot of drivers, especially those who live in the north or in rural areas start to wonder about the advantages of winter tyres. Many drivers will benefit from swapping from summer tyres to especially designed and manufactured winter alternatives over the colder months of the year. This is because winter tyres work and grip much more effectively than standard tyres at temperatures below seven degree Celsius, whether on snow, ice or just general cold and wet conditions.

How do Winter Tyres work?

Winter Tyre Treads

The addition of Sipes into winter tyre tread patterns is one of the most visually obvious differences separating them from standard tyres. These Sipes give the individual tread blocks much greater flexibility, providing many times more “biting” points to grip the roads surface in all conditions.

Compared to standard tyres, winter tyres also have far more tread channels across the tyre, which are wider and deeper than standard tyres. This means that much greater volumes of water are able to be moved from under the tyre as well as providing enhanced traction and braking abilities.

The final and least obvious difference is probably the most important. This is the physical composition of the rubber compound that winter tyres are made from. The specialised compound used to make winter tyres is able to stay soft and flexible well below zero degrees Celsius, when standard tyres start to harden once the temperature reaches seven degrees Celsius. By staying soft a very low temperatures winter tyres are able to grip and adapt to different road surfaces when standard tyres have lost these abilities. It is no surprise that in many European countries such as Germany, cars have to be fitted with winter tyres by law.

What are the Benefits of using Winter Tyres?

Winter tyres provide greatly reduced braking distances in wet, on the snow or on ice compared to standard tyres. On a snow covered road, being able to stop a full two car lengths away from where you would without fitting winter tyres can reduce the risk of accidents and damage to your car.

Winter Tyres Stopping Distances


In the winter, drivers are six times more likely to have an accident, with men twice as likely as women to have a collision or bump. In 2010, three million drivers had accidents in their vehicles, with almost half of all drivers reporting two or more near misses.

Prepare for Cold Weather

Now that the temperature has started to drop, there are a number of precautions you should take to ensure your safety this winter

  • Consider having your vehicle fully serviced, ensuring special attention is paid to the vehicles braking system
  • Carry an emergency kit in case of accidents or getting stranded. Include a warm drink in a thermos, a couple of blankets, gloves, de-icer, a snow shovel, and a fully charged mobile phone. Always tell people where you are going and use main routes, as they are more likely to have been gritted.

At Dexel we supply only the best winter tyres from major premium brands, as we want to ensure you feel the real performance benefits only the best winter tyres can give. We can also store your summer tyres for you while you are not using them if you do not have the space. We will then refit these tyres for you in the spring and store your winter tyres until next autumn.

We recommend getting your winter tyres fitted in late autumn, to ensure that you aren’t caught out by unexpected British weather.

To find out where you can get your new winter tyres fitted, use our Branch Locator, or explore our range of winter tyres using our Tyre Search.