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Winter tyres are designed to provide safe, reliable performance at temperatures below about 5-7 degrees celsius. In warmer months, when road conditions remain well above freezing, summer tyres are generally fine on both wet and dry road surfaces. During the winter months, we recommend you buy winter tyres to be prepared for the colder conditions.
As you’d expect, all-season models land somewhere between the two in terms of capabilities and performance. You may choose to buy all-season tyres online if you live in a climate that’s often very wet, but where temperatures tend to hover in the low single digits (C) without dropping to freezing.
There are three key differences between winter tyres and summer versions - tyre structure, tyre compound, and tyre tread pattern.
You should have winter tyres fitted any time the temperatures drop into the low single figures (C) or below.
In colder weather, typically below about 5-7 celsius, harder summer tyres won’t be able to soften up enough during normal road driving to provide the grip you need. Stiffer compounds are also at greatly increased risk of cracking or chipping when they’re cold, which will mean you have to replace them immediately.
Cold weather tyres perform far better in freezing weather conditions, including on snow, ice, slush, and freezing dry roads. Handling response and braking distances will be improved dramatically when running even budget winter tyres in these conditions, versus inappropriate summer versions.
You shouldn’t leave winter tyres on your car during the summer months. It’s far more sensible (and a lot cheaper in the long run!) to switch to all-season or summer tyres at warmer temperatures. There are several very good reasons for this: