|Summer tyres start to lose grip when temperatures fall below 7C, and when temperatures hit freezing levels below -3C summer tyres are pretty much useless. The rubber in summer tyres freezes and has little or no flex and hence is unable to grip. Winter tyres are able to operate in freezing temperatures because they have a different rubber compound more natural rubber and optimised silica based compounds designed to work in cold conditions. Winter tyres are designed to tackle a wide range of road surfaces and conditions including snowy conditions, icy roads or wet weather. Winter tyres have a fine block design with grooves that are deep and wide some also come with spikes. This enables the tyres to bite into the snow and give the vehicle better traction and better braking.
For safe and precise driving in winter, we recommend you change all four tyres to winter. There are a lot of drivers who are just changing the two driven tyres. We don't recommend this because this can cause an imbalance in grip levels and can make the vehicle unstable and even cause the vehicle to lose control. The best option is to fit a complete set of winter tyres as this will ensure you have maximum control of your car, and it will feel right.
There are a couple of points to note on winter tyres. Although the legal tread limit for the UK is 1.6mm, winter tyres should be replaced earlier. The ideal time to replace them is when the tread limit reaches around 3-4mm. Once the tread is worn below 3mm, the tyre looses it ability to bite into the snow. Once you have winter tyres fitted you still need to be cautions especially driving in heavy snow, your vehicle could still spin and and slide while braking. You should Never accelerate hard this can make the wheels spin especially before setting off. Never apply the brakes sharply, always apply the brake gently and use engine braking to slow down the vehicle.
Keep a check on your tyre pressure, As the temperature drops so does tyre pressure. Just remeber when the temperature rises to above 7C it's time to change back to summer tyres as the winters will not grip in summer conditions. If your winter tyres are not worn then save them for next year.