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How to buy winter tyres

Buying advice for winter tyres

If your winter driving tends to be in cold conditions where ice and snow are common, it makes sense to buy appropriate tyres. Here we explain everything you need to know about buying winter tyres.

What are the benefits of winter tyres?

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Winter tyres are made from a specially developed compound that guarantees flexibility, even below +7 degrees C. They’re also designed to maximise traction when driving on snow and ice. They have deeper, wider treads than summer tyres and little grooves (called sipes) on the tread blocks.

How do I recognise a winter tyre?

Winter tyres feature two symbols: the letters M+S and a snowflake/mountain logo. M+S indicates that the tyre offers superior handling in mud and snow. You’ll also see this symbol on all-season tyres. The three-peak mountain and snowflake – also known as 3PMSF – only appears on winter tyres. It means that the tyre has passed a minimum required performance on snow, under EU Regulation 661/2009.

Uniroyal Winter-Tyre Symbols/Naming EN Graphic

How do I know which winter tyre(s) to buy?

There are many things to consider so it’s a good idea to consult an expert. For example:

  • What does your manufacturer recommend?
  • What conditions will you be driving in?
  • How frequently will you be driving on snow and ice and how common will it be that temperatures fall below +7 degrees C?
  • What do the tyre tests say about the tyre’s snow grip, aquaplaning prevention and handling?

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Can I get away with buying only two winter tyres?

Even though it’s not illegal, we strongly advise against mixing tyres as it can cause issues with safety. It can even be dangerous, leading to spinning or problems with cornering. 

When should I buy and how often should I change my winter tyres?

It makes sense to buy at the end of summer, before the temperatures fall. That way you can fit them straight away and avoid any unnecessary storage costs. Don’t leave it too late, however, as you don’t want to be caught out if there’s a sudden drop in temperature. Whether you’re retrieving them from storage, or buying a new set, make sure you fit your winter tyres before temperatures go below +7 degrees C.

A good quality set of winter tyres should last for 4-5 years when switching every six months.

Please remember that, in some countries, it’s compulsory to fit separate summer and winter tyres. For more information, read our article ‘Where are winter tyres mandatory?

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