IT MIGHT SEEM a little early to think of switching to winter tyres. As I write this, the sun is shining and the weather is better than it has been for most of what passed for summer. However, our colleagues at What Car? are advising their readers not to wait for heavy snow before swapping summer tyres for winter ones.


The magazine has carried out an extensive test of winter and summer tyres, comparing braking distances and handling on snow and ice, wet roads and dry. What Car? found that winter tyres aren’t just beneficial when there’s snow on the ground.


In wet weather, with the temperature averaging 4°C, winter tyres needed an average of four metres less to stop from 50mph than summer tyres.


Handling tests in the wet, with scores for grip, steering and traction out of corners, placed winter tyres in two out of the top three positions.


The biggest differences in performance occurred in snowy conditions. Stopping from 25mph on snow, summer tyres took more than twice the distance to stop as their winter counterparts. Even the worst performing winter tyres on test needed 11 metres less stopping distance than the best summer tyres.


Stopping on ice from 12mph, summer tyres took an average of 6.5 metres longer than winter ones.


It’s pretty compelling stuff.


Last winter, many of us (myself included) will have looked into winter tyres too late, with demand outstripping supply and delivery dates stretching weeks if not months into the future. If that sounds familiar, it makes sense to get a set of winter rubber on order sooner rather than later. As What Car?‘s results show, your car will be safer with winter tyres in wet and cold conditions, not just when there’s snow and ice on the roads.


You can read more in What Car?‘s November issue.