January 28, 2013 11:37 AM |
Posted By: Stephen Dobie
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Winter tyres – good or evil? I don’t want to take a tin opener to one of the biggest cans of worms in motoring, but after three days of completely changeable weather, it’s an apt discussion.
Last winter I ran a Mini John Cooper Works, which arrived before Christmas 2011 wearing Bridgestone Blizzak winter boots. In the month of mild weather that followed, I was far from convinced. It varied between reluctant to turn in to performing small-scale four-wheel drifts at low speeds. The cold-weather rubber turned a normally alert little car into one with unpredictable levels of grip.
Then one weekend in February 2012, the snow fell. The little Mini cut through it all like a stripy Ski-Doo, and was as driveable in snow as it proved to be on its normal Continental tyres in the damp. Everything suddenly made sense.
Yet the majority of Britain gets a serious dumping of snow one or two weeks a year. The rest of our winter – at the moment, at least – tends to be a mixture of rain, fog and relatively mild temperatures, conditions in which a winter tyre falls behind a regular, ‘summer’ tyre. And when the snow does come, the fact most of our country’s cars ride on summers means that traffic is incredibly slow-moving anyway.
Is there an argument for eschewing winter tyres and just working from home – where possible – on the days the weather is really heavy? Or spending the hefty fee you can end up paying on a set of winter wheels and new rims on a rough and ready old off-roader that you can sell on come spring (or keep tucked away for future winters)?
Or is it time to join Europe and make fitting winter tyres law? It certainly makes sense for those with important and mobile professions – nurses, police, etc. Let me know your thoughts below…