It's almost mid-October. Until a few years ago around this time we were bombarded with radio commercials about 'tire change weeks'. With the call to exchange the summer tires of our car for winter tires. The nonsense seems to be over and that's a good thing.
Admittedly: until four years ago I also had a set of extra wheels in the shed. Like many compatriots, I had been persuaded that winter tires from 7 degrees Celsius are safer than summer tires.
Even then, I was already working more than 70 kilometers from my home and working from home was not yet an option. That's why I couldn't take the risk of being stranded or sliding off the road in sudden winter weather.
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And so I dutifully rode in winter slippers from the end of October to the end of April. But when, after that first season, I counted how many days it had been frosty, snowing or severely frozen, I could only reach the fingers of one hand.
The following year I left the winter wheels in the shed until a multi-day period of winter weather was announced. Then I felt like a king on my winter rubber for a few days, and then continued to ride on it for months without any need...
For example, the driving and braking properties of good summer tires are exhausted dry in nat road surface better than most winter tires, even when the temperature is 7 degrees Celsius or lower.
The bottom line is that the softer rubber compound and special profile of winter tires only prove their usefulness on snow, ice and at temperatures below zero. The term 'winter tires' is actually misleading: 'snow tires' cover the load better.
In addition, many motorists continue to drive on winter tires well into the summer for financial reasons. And if there is one thing winter tires are not intended for, it is for summer use. They wear out more, which causes extra particulate matter, driving behavior becomes more unstable and the braking distance becomes longer. So you drive more unsafely in the summer, because of the illusion that you would be better off with winter tires in the winter.
Almost four years ago in January I bought a car of a different brand than I had. I decided to sell the winter set of my old car that had not been used for two winters and to have a set of new all-season tires installed on my 'new' car. After all, I sometimes visit Germany in the winter and there you have to have tires that are approved for that in winter conditions.
You recognize them by the letters M+S and the snow crystal symbol (officially: it three peak mountainsymbol) on the cheek. You will of course also find this on good all-season tires - only the letters M+S (mud & snow) are insufficient according to the rules in Germany, among others.
I went for a premium brand that had won several tests. Considering the international test results, it was an excellent compromise. On snow, this all-season tire performed almost as well as the reference winter tire and on wet roads it was safer than the reference summer tire.
The summer tire only showed better driving behavior and a shorter braking distance under extreme conditions on dry roads. And we are talking about a premium summer tire and not about the cheap Chinese junk that unfortunately many people still drive.
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Of the 70,000 miles I drove on my first set of allseasons, maybe a dozen were on snowy or icy surfaces. That was during a few wintery days, when the municipality had chosen not to spread salt in my residential area.
I also once drove a few dozen meters across the slippery parking lot of a German hotel. During those small moments of happiness I was able to drive away without any problems, while drivers on summer tires had quite a bit of trouble with that.
My car recently put on its second set of all-season tires. Once again I chose a test winner and I am assured of safe car footwear for the coming winter and summer. Without having to invest in an extra set of wheels or tire storage. After all, I don't wear snowshoes or flip-flops all year round.
It is also quite relaxing that I do not have to constantly keep an eye on the weather forecast in the winter. No more hurried wheel changes in front of the door, while the approaching winter cold bites my ears. No, winter tires are no longer necessary for me. In the Netherlands they are almost always redundant - especially with current climate change in mind. During a rare national snowfall or a winter sports holiday abroad, a good all-season tire from a renowned brand offers more than enough safety reserves.
This post was last modified on October 12, 2023 12:53 pm
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