Tag Archives: winter tyres

A Tale Of Winter Tyres

Steph testing new runflat tyres
Steph testing new runflat tyres

We are often asked to recommend and review types of tyres for winter driving.

That’s not always as easy as it might sound because there’s a massive choice out there, it’ll depend on the motorist’s usual mileage and, often, where they live.

I’m not talking about brand names here – we don’t have any deals going on with tyre manufacturers so we can be truly independent.

We’re fussy about the garages we work with of course! Please note we run a network of FOXY Lady Approved tyre centres where women (and men) can rely on not being overcharged or sold services they don’t need.

About Winter Tyres

Winter tyres are recommended in temperatures below 7°C or if you drive in Europe on the likes of a winter-sports holiday or in mountainous terrain. They will increase your safety and make driving less risky and scary in wet, icy and snowy conditions.

Winter tyres use a different rubber compound to summer tyres. As such they don’t harden in colder weather so you enjoy better grip, shorter stopping distances and, let’s face it, less chance of having an accident in the winter.

The downside is that you’ll need two sets of tyres, which is likely to be too expensive if you don’t drive a lot and/or can cadge lifts and leave the car at home until temperatures rise.

Different tyre centres offer different customer services. Some operate trendy titled ‘Tyre Hotels’ where you get your winter tyres fitted in October and they store your summer tyres for you until you change them back in March. And so on.

But probably the better as well as cheaper model, space permitting at home or in a garage, is to take your summer tyres home with you in October and your winter ones in the summer.

For example Micheldever Tyres, who own the Protyre garage group, give you smart tyre carriers so they’re easy and clean to carry and store.

About All Season Tyres

As the name implies, all season tyres are a combination of summer and winter tyres. They are recommended for motorists who live in particularly wet and cold weather conditions, all year round.

So if you’re short of storage space and don’t fancy the hassle of changing tyres twice a year, all season tyres may appeal more than winter tyres.

The downside is, they don’t perform as well as winter tyres in harsh conditions when you need them most. But they do better than normal tyres in cases where you’d aquaplane otherwise.

“You pays your money…”

About Runflat Tyres

An added consideration is if your car has runflats or a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). In this instance a light on your dashboard tells you when a tyre pressure level is of concern and you might have a puncture.

At which stage you can either top up an offending tyre, there and then, or know you have a range of 50 miles (at a speed of no more than 50mph just in case) to get to a garage to verify or rectify matters.

This is very reassuring for me, on a motorway, for example. In my case I don’t have a choice because runflats are compulsory for BMWs and MINIs.

But the good news is that if you have a TPMS on a car that doesn’t specify runflats you can now buy Bridgestone DriveGuard tyres with the same properties and reassuring benefits as runflats.

NB: In this instance, I’m talking about a runflat as an ordinary tyre ie neither an all season nor a winter tyre. You can’t mix them with ordinary tyres, it’s to be all four or none, but you don’t need to carry a spare wheel or know how to use a puncture repair canister (see FOXY’s earlier blog about this).

The downside is that they can be quite a bit more expensive than ordinary tyres.

Conclusions about Tyres in Winter

FOXY tells Club members to buy the best tyres they can afford. If you don’t do much mileage then budget tyres will likely do nicely. If you ply motorways as I do, then you want the best premium (well known) brands as their tyres will last longer.

Remember that you get what you pay for re tyres. And NEVER EVER buy cheap part worn tyres because you don’t know where they’ve been.

Hopefully this blog will help you decide what’s best for you when considering having winter or all season tyres fitted. And if you’re a Club member you can always ask us for a second opinion.

By all means let us know what you decide and your tyre shopping experiences via Twitter and @FOXYSteph or @FOXYTweets.


Tyresafe Online and Social Media Award Winner 2016

Going skiing in 2013?

An increasing number of skiers and snowboarders are opting for self-drive holidays to European ski resorts to enjoy good snow conditions and to save money on flights.

However, driving to ski resorts in many European countries brings with it certain motoring challenges and concerns particularly when it comes to car tyres.

It is common for Northern European motorists near ski resorts to have two sets of car tyres because they are more used to driving in snowy conditions than we are. At this time of the year they will fit winter tyres to deal with the very cold weather, ice and snow.

According to the FOXY Lady Approved female friendly Protyre Group this is not common practice in the UK yet, although there has been an increase in the sale of winter or cold weather tyres in the last few years.

Please see the excellent Tyresafe video here if you need convincing about the safety case…

Furthermore, motorists driving to a German ski resort are liable to on-the-spot fines if their vehicle becomes stuck in snow or ice because their tyres are unsuitable for the winter conditions. All British motorists travelling to alpine resorts should be aware of the importance of tyre choice although apparently the Department of Transport has confirmed that international conventions only require that our cars satisfy general technical requirements.

Protyre recommends that if you are driving to European ski resorts you consider a set of winter tyres or as an alternative, switching to an all season tyre which has the capability of dealing with snow and ice better than summer tyres. Where in doubt contact any of the FOXY Lady Approved female friendly Protyre tyre fitting centres in the UK for advice. Their contact details can be found at www.protyre.co.uk.

Important tyre safety checks

Either way, before setting off on a winter road journey MTS suggests the following safety checks:

+ Check all tyres for their general condition
+ Check tyre pressures
+ Check tyre tread – where winter tyres are fitted a minimum of 3mm is required in most countries. Other tyres should also have a minimum of 3mm.
+ Check the spare tyre for tread depth and pressure

As always, FOXY’s advice to women drivers is to get used to walking around your car on a regular basis, come snow, rain or shine, to check the condition of your tyres. You are looking for any evidence of sidewall wear and tear, a slow puncture and low (getting close to being illegal) tread.

Your tyres control your road safety, that of your passengers and potentially other motorists/pedestrians so that must always the main consideration… BUT if you neglect them they will also be MUCH more expensive to replace than they would be to repair the moment you spot a potential problem.

Happy skiing!


IAM foxy driving tips for icy conditions

Driver training specialist IAM Drive & Survive‘s head of training Simon Elstow is advising on driving on frost and ice.

Here are his foxy tips so we can all drive more confidently in icy conditions:

1)    Ensure you have de-icer and a scraper.  Before setting off, make sure you clean any ice or condensation from all the windows and mirrors to optimise visibility. 

2)    When you set off, do so in second gear, releasing the clutch and accelerating gently, avoiding high revs – this will prevent wheel spin. 

3)    As you drive, stay in higher gears and don’t drive too fast in case of losing control.

4)    Stopping distances are increased by up to 10 times in icy conditions, so leave plenty of distance between your car and the car in front – plan so that you’re not relying on your brakes to stop – on ice they may not do that for you.

5)    If your car loses grip, take your foot off the accelerator, and point the front wheels where you want to go.

6)      Keep to the main roads as they’re more likely to be gritted. Also bear in mind that after the frost has gone, ice can remain in areas which are shaded by trees and buildings.

7)      Where you park can help reduce your risk of being involved in someone else’s accident. So look for off road parking where possible or gritted roads if not.

Elstow said: “When the roads are icy the best advice is to drive as if you’re walking on eggshells. Be prepared for the worst – icy conditions can affect accelerating, steering and braking.  Being mentally prepared as well as having the right equipment is vital, so think about any problems you encountered last winter, and what you need to do to overcome them if they recur this year.”

And consider winter tyres of course – there’s a great Tyresafe video to explain the benefits at our Facebook page.


Get your socks on this winter

If you are a naturally well organised person or one that doesn’t always get her planning done as early as she might like (sounds like me if I’m honest), then the start of the Autumn school term is a sure sign that winter is on the horizon brrrr.

But it doesn’t stop me dreaming of an Indian summer <she sighs wistfully remembering one c30 years ago in Bournemouth that seemed to go on forever…>.

Either way it makes good sense to plan well ahead for colder climes. Didn’t last year’s winter start with heavy and highly unexpected snow in December? If I remember rightly we struggled with the cold for months, even in sunny Sussex.

So I’m doing my best to get ahead this year by compiling a seasonal shopping list to start just as soon as I get round to it…

Top of my list is a new electric blanket – one you can pop in the washing machine apparently. I’m going to have to convince my husband about this though because we’re like Jack Spratt and his missus in bed.  I like to be warm and cosied up before I can drift off to sleep whereas he prefers a cold bed and poking his feet out. Dual controls is the message I shall try here…

Next and considerably more major is that we MUST replace our boiler soon. As you might expect,  my husband isn’t keen on that idea either. Because when it’s moved to where it’s going ‘we’ can get on with the new kitchen I’ve been planning for years. ‘Think of all the upheaval’ says he but I’m dreaming of my new cooker and all the appliances and cupboards I’ve been making do with ‘until we get the boiler replaced…’.

And swiftly moving on…

I eventually turn my thoughts to motoring as you might expect and the need to have a reliable car come whatever our weather throws at us. Yes, it’s nearly time to check if your battery and antifreeze levels are up to the job. You CAN do this for yourself of course but if you’ve an MOT or car service on the horizon it surely makes sense to get the lot checked out together; in my book that means calling on the female friendly FOXY Choice garage professionals.

I know you probably have breakdown cover to hand but it’s a good idea to see what you’ve signed up to before you need it. Is it the variety that’ll come out to get you going if your car doesn’t start in the morning, for example? You really need homestart or homecover if you do because chances are that’s when your car will let you down, with no-one around to help sort things out. And whilst there is no guarantee that this offer will exist when you read this, this Green Flag breakdown recovery offer at £48 does look a good one – terms apply and so on.

Finally if you are a professional motorway mile eater you will probably be able to justify winter tyres so get them sorted out early. Here’s some reading material from Protyre about cold weather tyres for starters.

But if you only do local mileage and are content with limited usage and top speeds of 30-50mph then snow socks are the low cost way forward; and many motorists add them to winter tyres too. We were reminded about snow socks by FOXY Choice approved female friendly garage Steeles of Worthing who stock Vauxhall’s brand that are TUV-approved (the German equivalent of the MoT). They expect them to be the foxy buy this winter; whilst stocks remain…

Here’s some helpful reading material about snow socks. FOXY will be testing them this winter so there’ll be more to read about this subject as soon as we get some white stuff.

So there’s no excuse for being cold at home or cut off when the snow comes! All you have to do is plan for a tough winter and with a bit of luck we’ll have a mild one. You never can tell!