Snow, ice, freezing winter conditions … Winter requires us to make a few adjustments to our cars to enable us to travel safely. Which explains why demand for winter tyres in Belgium has greatly increased over the past two years.
Motorists are increasingly attaching greater importance to road safety. Freezing winter conditions mean cars start slipping a lot sooner, which makes accidents more likely. Which is why changing tyres is high on the agenda of fleet managers. Here are the benefits of winter tyres in a nutshell.
Benefits of winter tyres
Fitting winter tyres remains somewhat shrouded in controversy in Belgium. A lot of people claim that switching to winter tyres is pointless if temperatures are not extreme. In the old days, winter tyres were strictly designed to deal with snow and ice. This generation of tyres also came with a number of drawbacks. Under wet or dry weather conditions, the car has less of a grip on the road surface. This explains why today some people still have the wrong idea about winter tyres and why they only tend to fit winter tyres under extreme wintry weather conditions. However, a new substance has been added to the rubber from which winter tyres are made: silica. Silica, or silicon dioxide, provides better traction, including when it is wet or dry.
Winter tyres may not be compulsory by law in Belgium, but they do significantly increase road safety.
Improved traction under low temperature conditions: winter tyres are made of a special rubber that finds it easier to adapt to low temperature conditions than summer tyres. Winter tyres have a lot more traction force at temperatures of 7° or less. At low temperatures, the rubber used in summer tyres stiffens, causing the car to lose traction whilst increasing the stopping distance.
Diminished aquaplaning: the sipes ensure enhanced water and snow evacuation. As a result, this not only improves the car’s roadholding capacity, but also acts to shorten the stopping distance, thereby greatly reducing the risk of aquaplaning (floating on a water film).
Winter tyres are every bit as comfortable as summer tyres: in the old days, winter tyres sometimes produced an awkward sound, and were often felt to be less comfortable. The rubber composition of the new generation has reduced the rolling sound of winter tyres to the same level as that of summer tyres.
Winter tyres provide increased safety, which drives down the risk of an accident. In addition, fitting winter tyres has a positive impact on your insurance premiums.
When should you switch to winter tyres?
Driving with your winter tyres on all year round is strongly advised against. In Belgium, winter tyres are permitted only between 1 October and 30 April. All the more so as the wear and tear of winter tyres greatly increases under high temperature conditions. Moreover, you use up to 5 per cent more fuel driving with winter tyres on under higher outdoor temperatures. So the best thing to do is to make an appointment to switch tyres when the weather starts getting a little warmer.