It all depends on the individual and what you actually use your car for, there isn’t a simple yes or no answer.
To put it simply, if you’ll be driving a lot over the colder months and need to travel on wheels out of necessity and can’t use public transport or other means of getting from A-B, then winter tyres will be a good investment. A decent set of winter tyres will cost upwards of €300, this is a cost many of us could do without but the key word is investment. If you spend the money now, you could avoid spending much more through repair costs or insurance premiums if you lose control and end up with even the most minor repair or respray. Not forgetting to mention your safety and health. You can plan to buy tyres, you can’t really plan for what could happen without them.
I’ve actually had this blog post saved as a draft since last year. I decided to give the tyres a proper test and then publish it when the time came around again to be considering the purchase.
My personal experience is that even though in Ireland, we may not get the extremes of Nordic countries, the tyres themselves make a huge difference. I regularly do runs which cover the length and breadth of the country taking me on a full circle of Ireland in 2 days. When faced with road conditions like we’ve had in recent winters, although the roads themselves may not be so bad, the combination of the weather, with the inexperience of Irish drivers in such conditions, with not having adequate tyres can only lead to delays and this was certainly the case in the last 2 years with huge traffic jams throughout the country. I was able to make much better progress feeling safe in the knowledge my winters would allow me to use the snow covered, untreated overtaking lanes and even overtake safely and efficiently on clear stretches of single lane traffic and I believe I shaved at least a couple of hours off my journey. I could also feel the difference on the untreated roads and was able to get to destinations my wheels were preventing me from reaching the previous times without the winters.
This is a video taken with a dash-cam on one of the vans. The first half was taken just before getting a new set of All-Season tyres fitted, the tyres on the van at the time were summer tyres that were near the end of their life anyway and the difference between the two can be seen best in the stopping distance and control at the start and end of the video:
Bearing in mind the new tyres were all seasons as opposed to winters, winters would even out perform the all seasons and you’d see an even bigger difference.
So why did I get all seasons on this van? I knew this van wouldn’t be getting the same use over winter as the one I fitted winters too and it also wouldn’t be getting much use over the summer so there was no real reason to have either winter or summer tyres fitted and opted for All Seasons instead. I believe this is definitely the best choice for a vehicle with similar usage, the all seasons did a great job on the snow and ice and handle well in the wetter conditions too and because of their compound, they won’t wear out quickly in summer months like the winters would.
So in conclusion, it really just comes down to the mileage you’ll be doing over the year and the winter in particular.
Currently have a set of Summer tyres fitted and predict high mileage and necessary journeys over winter and summer? Get Winter Tyres!
Currently have a set of Summer tyres fitted and predict necessary journeys and average use spread over the entire year? Get All seasons!
Currently have a set of Summer tyres fitted and predict average mileage over the winter and journeys you can do without? Leave the car at home!
Currently have All Seasons fitted and predict high mileage and necessary journeys over the winter and summer? I think this depends on the type of journey you need to take, will you be in a rush, travelling on untreated roads etc, then it’s probably best to get a set of winter tyres and keep the all seasons for the warmer months!
If your current tyres need replacing soon anyway then it will be a simpler choice, high mileage over summer and winter, get winter, average use, just go with all seasons.
Points to note:
We don’t generally have summer’s hot enough that will wear a set of winters or all seasons as much as they would wear in hotter countries so in a lot of cases, all seasons would do the job fine. Any type of high mileage and journeys planned that will take you off the main roads then a set of winter tyres would definitely be a wise investment!
If you think you’ll have the same vehicle as you do now for the next few years, then it’s definitely a wise move to get a set of winters. Having a set of each is the optimum choice and rather than wearing down your current set and buying a similar set and wearing them down and then buying another set, it would make a lot more sense to get a set of each as they will last longer in their specific seasons, create a safer driving experience and if you’re changing back and forth as the weather demands, you’ll be encourage to rotate the front to back where you might neglect to do so otherwise. Rotation is advised to prolong the life of tyres with the tyres with the most thread depth going at the back for better handling.
Winter tyres should be used in temperatures 7 degrees Celsius and below, once the temperature picks up again in Spring, it’s time to put the summer tyres back on and keep the winter tyres in suitable storage.