As winter approaches holidaymakers planning on driving abroad for a skiing trip should start to think about making sure their car tyres are up to the job.
The right tyres is a subject on the mind of Sunday Times reader LP from Battersea, south west London, who posed this question to the newspapers Car Clinic column in the ingear motoring supplement: “I plan on driving from London to Chamonix in my BMW X3 this ski season. There will be snow and ice on the parking areas and some of the smaller roads. Should I consider fitting mud and snow (M&S) tyres?”
To which Car Clinic panelist Dave Pollard – who has tested just about every car-related accessory, replied: “M&S tyres provide incredibly good grip on slippery surfaces but, as their name suggests, are not designed for tarmac, where their chunky tread impairs handling and braking ability, as well as increasing road noise. They are not ideal in your situation, where most of your driving will be on snow-free roads.
“It would be possible to buy a new set of wheels fitted with M&S tyres and change them every time you go to France, but this will be expensive and fiddly.
“A better choice would be to invest in snow chains, and fit them when the road gets slippery. Around many ski resorts, and in some stretches of the Alps, it is mandatory to carry them anyway, no matter what tyre of tyre is fitted.”
He goes on to add: “Also consider winter tyres when your existing set need replacing. Despite their name, these are suitable for all-year-round use. Their compound contains more silica than normal tyres, which makes their grip considerably better when temperatures are below 7C. Performance is all but identical when warmer.
“They are around 15% more expensive than standard tyres but are a very good choice for the British climate, and common in mainland Europe where Continental is a popular brand, although most companies can supply them.”
Denna Bowman, Head Office