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How to choose your winter tire ?

Updated on February 18, 2015

Since 1 November, winter tires are mandatory in most European countries. There is an excellent reason to this. Here are some tips to select the best ones.

How to choose winter tires

New generation cars are equipped with series of systems to prevent you from spinning during braking or avoiding an obstacle. Be warn, on icy or snowy road, these systems lose their effectiveness if you did not mounted your winter tires.

Which and why?

Since 1 November, winter tires are mandatory in most European countries. There is an excellent reason to this: studies and experience have shown that, in winter conditions, winter tires hold the road better and reduce the braking distance. Ellen Neukermans (Michelin) explains why: "winter tires have other blocks of gum and other blades and they are composed of a different rubber preventing them harden in cold and thus losing traction. "This problem occurs as soon as the temperature drops below + 7 ° C."

The figures

Michelin tests on private tracks showed that, by a temperature of + 4 ° C and at an initial speed of 80 km/h, winter tire braking distances are 6 meters shorter than a summer tire. On a snow-covered surface, the difference is much more impressive: at an initial speed of 50 km/h, braking distance is 32 m for a car equipped with winter tires and 63 m with tires summer. And the tires called eco-low resistance tires take even more distance: it is important to replace them, on time, by snow tires.

Which one should I buy?

Although the differences in prices are relatively low, there are clear differences of quality. We rely in this regard on the results of comparative tests carried out by two renowned German magazine, AutoBild and Auto, Motor und Sport. Depending on the road quality, a brand is more or less efficient than another one. Continental WinterContact TS 850, Michelin Alpin A4 and Pirelli W210 Snowcontrol 3 won the highest scores in all circumstances. Michelin Alpin A4 displays a life expectancy significantly high (+ 75%) than its direct competitors, which earned him the best quality/price ratio. If you plan to buy a new car, you can put a set of free winter tires in the balance during the negotiations. Anyway, buying winter tires is not a frivolous investment: they improve your safety and extend the life of your summer tires.

How to distinguish them?

A winter tire has got special marking on the flank. They have M+S and a symbol of a mountain with snowflake on it.

Where to buy them?

Although buy on Internet allow you to savings of a few tens of euros (, the purchase of tires winter deserves you asking your garage to be sure you buy the good ones. These specialists deal with mounting, have the equipment necessary to balance the tires and offer (free) storage service. There are some firms that have mobile teams coming to mount your tyres in the parking lot during the office hours. With that system they want to avoid rush and huge queue when the weather is getting cold. Some of those company have package and can mount your actual winter tires and take your summer tires back to the storage.


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