FAQs - Winter driving
When are winter tyres appropriate?
Winter tyres are designed to work when the temperature drops to 7C and below. The tread design and compound formulation are better than summer tyres at these temperatures, so they improve grip, traction, handling and braking. The Met office state the average temperatures between October and March are generally below 7C therefore it makes perfect sense to fit winter tyres.
Can winter tyres be used at temperatures above 7?C?
Yes they can, 7C is generally used as the point at which winter tyres start to perform better than summer tyres. The 7C guideline isn't a 'switch' but rather a tipping point, the further away from 7C the temperature moves (either way) the more effective winter and summer tyres become relative to each other. However winter tyres can be used at temperatures above 7C. Below 7C, braking distances are shorter on wet roads with winter tyres. Even at 30mph there are significant braking benefits when using winter tyres on snowy roads. At 20mph winter tyres would stop the vehicle 11 metres sooner on icy roads.
How can I identify winter tyres?
All Volkswagen's winter tyres are marked with the 'snowflake' symbol so you can be sure you are buying a true winter tyre.
Are winter tyres just for when it snows?
Not at all. Winter tyres are designed for optimal safety and comfort when the temperature is 7C or below including wet, icy and snowy conditions.
Should all four wheels have winter tyres fitted?
For optimal safety Volkswagen recommends you fit a complete set of winter tyres. This increases vehicle traction and stability under all conditions including acceleration, braking and cornering, ensuring your vehicle is well balanced and has a stable footing on all road surfaces. We also offer a complete alloy wheel and winter tyre set. Simply speak to your local retailer for more information.
Are winter tyres okay to use all year round?
Winter tyres are not intended for all-year-round use. They are specifically designed to work most effectively in temperatures 7C or below due to tread design and compound formulation. During the summer months it's best to switch to your summer tyres. This way you'll get the most mileage out of both sets while achieving the optimum safety and comfort.
Should I drive slower with winter tyres?
Match your speed to the conditions you are driving in. Winter tyres have a speed rating, just like summer tyres. The speed rating is generally lower in winter tyres than summer tyres.
Is there legislation governing the use of winter tyres?
There isn't any legislation governing the use of winter tyres in the UK. But in many European countries winter tyres are now mandatory from both a legal and an insurance perspective. This is because of the safety benefits they deliver in all conditions at or around 7C in all road conditions.
What's the financial impact of using winter tyres?
Using the right tyres for the time of year and driving conditions reduces the effort or amount of work that the tyres must do. So fitting winter tyres will increase the life expectancy of your summer tyres. Using summer tyres in winter can increase tyre wear by up to 20%.* In addition to the increase in tyre life for both summer and winter tyres using the appropriate tyres will improve traction and reduce wheel spin. This improves the fuel economy.
*Source: TyreSafe, www.tyresafe.org
How do I safely store my tyres and alloy wheels?
Your Volkswagen retailer can supply Volkswagen approved tyre and wheel storage bags to safely store your summer tyres until you fit them in March and your winter tyres until you fit them in October. These storage bags are made from a durable material and built with carry handles. They also include a wheel label highlighting system so you know which tyre belongs to which wheel.
What are 'Snow chains' and 'Snow Socks' and when are they appropriate to use?
Snow chains are for use on snow and icy roads only and not to be used directly on uncovered tarmac or concrete surfaces which will damage your snow chains as well as damaging the road surface itself. Some countries insist that you must carry snow chains when visiting.
Snow Socks are a cheap but effective traction solution. They are similar to snow chains they fit around your tyres and improve grip. They are only for use on snow and icy roads and should be removed before driving onto treated/cleared roads to avoid premature wear.
Hint: Volkswagen would advise you practice fitting snow chains before having to fit them for the first time in poor weather conditions. Your local Volkswagen retailer will be able to assist you with fitting advice.
Will fitting winter tyres affect my insurance premium?
This is what the ABI say (Dec 2010): There was continued media interest in the possible insurance implications of fitting snow/winter tyres. The general view was that the fitting of snow/winter tyres would not be classed as a material alteration to the vehicle (provided they are fitted by a reputable garage, in accordance with manufacturers own specifications) and that, to be sure, policyholders should check with the head office of their insurance company. Check this link here This is what the SMMT say (Dec 2010): The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has today reassured motorists that they will not be affected by increased car insurance premiums as a result of using winter tyres to improve their vehicle's safety during the winter months. Following discussions with the Association of British Insurers (ABI), SMMT has clarified that the fitment of winter tyres does not constitute a modification that will affect premiums. SMMT is recommending motorists use winter tyres to improve grip and overall stopping distances during harsh winter driving conditions and urges drivers to seek further advice from their local franchised dealer. ?Winter tyres ensure that the driver gets maximum traction on and off road, thereby ensuring that safety and stability are optimised,? said SMMT Chief Executive, Paul Everitt. ?Despite increasingly harsh winter conditions in the UK, only a handful of drivers have vehicles with winter tyres, but there are many vehicle manufacturers providing a range of winter tyre options to ensure optimum performance and driver safety during winter driving conditions.? Source: Tyresafe, www.tyresafe.org It's been proven that winter tyres significantly improve grip and reduce stopping distances in temperatures that drop below 7C because, unlike normal driving tyres, they do not harden. This means they can maintain better traction in low temperatures, as well as in the wet and on snow, slush and ice. Tests found that stopping distances were reduced by 4.8 metres on wet roads and 11 metres on icy roads when travelling at 20mph. See this link here:
Do I need winter tyres if I have TCS or ESP (Traction Control System or Electronic Stability Programme)?
Traction control systems such TCS (Traction Control System) and ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) will limit the power delivered to your wheels depending on the conditions you are driving in. The amount of power that can be transmitted is very much limited by the effectiveness of your tyres to 'grip' the road surface. If your tyres have no grip then TCS will not necessarily help to drive you through snow or ice. Effective TCS will only prevent you from spinning your tyres. With winter tyres your vehicle will be more able to transmit drive from your engine to the road surface.
Do I need winter tyres if I have ABS?
The function of ABS is to prevent your wheels from 'locking up', this allows the driver to maintain steering and stability and doesn't necessarily improve braking performance or reduce braking distances. In slippery conditions when a vehicle's wheels may skid, ABS will actually reduce braking and therefore may, under certain circumstances, increase braking distances. Fitting winter tyres actually increases grip between tyre and road and allows braking to be effective while reducing the tendency to skid. ABS can be more effective when winter tyres are used at temperatures at or below 7C.
What if my car has 4 Motion?
Volkswagen's 4 Motion definitely offers an advantage delivering drive to the road, although it's a mistake to think that 4 Motion means you don't need winter tyres. When they're fitted, winter tyres increase the 4 Motion advantage significantly and will make sure you get the best results out of your 4 Motion system. 4 Motion doesn't do much for steering and braking. Fitting winter tyres provides better drive, steering and braking.
What is the difference between winter tyres and cold weather tyres?
None really, the two terms are interchangeable and both are used to describe a tyre designed with higher natural rubber content, more effective tread pattern and additional Sipes. If you're looking for a tyre that is good for winter then look for the snowflake symbol to make sure you're getting a tyre designed to work when the temperature drops below 7C.
How do I store my summer tyres safely during the winter?
We suggest the following: 1. Locate a cool, dry location away from any heat or water pipes. Flooring should be free from grease, and oil as this can deteriorate the tyre rubber. 2. Your local Volkswagen will identify which tyre came from which wheel for you before placing the tyres into the tyre bags. 3. Wash and dry tyres (and wheels) to avoid any corrosion during storage. 4. Stack your tyres lying flat on the floor in their bags i.e.Tread facing outwards not up. Do not stack any higher than 4ft. 5. Slightly rotate the tyres once a month to avoid any distortion in the rubber. 6. We recommend that your Volkswagen retailer re-fits your tyres for you. They will check the rubber for any distortions and also make sure the tyre pressure is correct.