By Denna Bowman
With the UK in the grip of another weekend of snow showers motorists are being urged to consider their personal circumstances and weigh up whether it is worth investing in winter tyres, snow chains or snow socks.
Peter Rodger, chief examiner of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, warns: “With extremes of cold weather being unusual here, and the UK government showing no signs of making winter tyres compulsory, there is no obligation to invest in them.
“Nevertheless, a set of winter tyres could be a sensible option for some UK motorists, for example those who live at high altitude or in remote areas.
“For the rest of us, whether the cost is justified depends on individual circumstances such as annual mileage and whether you have the option to avoid driving in extreme conditions.”
The IAM points out that there are two main differences between winter and normal tyres – the tread pattern and the materials used.
Winter tyres have a tread pattern of wider grooves and narrow slits at the edges of the tread area, all of which help to give better grip on snow and ice.
In terms of materials, winter tyres use a type of rubber which stays soft and grippy even when the temperature drops well below zero. The rubber used on the tread of a standard tyre becomes stiffer as the temperature drops, causing grip to reduce below seven degrees C.
For those who want to keep their standard tyres an alternative option is to use them in conjunction with snow chains or snow socks. The former cost from £50 for an economy set and are effective in deep snow.
Snow socks, while ultimately less effective in deep snow, will provide sufficient grip for most UK conditions, are easier to fit and can be driven on clear roads (although they will wear out quickly). They are also the cheapest option, costing from just £40 a set.