Your Ultimate Guide for Winter Tires

Why Winter Tires?

winter tires guide

The material used for the manufacturing of the tires, changes its properties according to the environment temperature. At lower temperatures the rubber becomes harder and the traction with the road surface lowers. Have in mind that the tread pattern plays a major role for the grip of the tire on the road surface. That’s why the winter tires are produced with special ingredient in the rubber called “Silica”. With its help, the rubber remains elastic even at very low temperatures. In other words, you should not rely that the so called all-season tires will be as good as the specially designed for the purpose – winter tires. The statement that the winter tires are only for snow is incorrect. Specialists recommend the usage of the winter tires at temperatures below 7°C, no matter if there is snow or not. The best traction with road surface for the summer tires is within the range of 10-30°C, and for the winter tires – between 0 and minus 20°C. Winter tires (Also known as M+S) guarantee elasticity and flexibility on icy and snowy road surface. And if you have any doubts – be sure that the winter tires have the same noise level as the summer tires.

Two or Four Tires

Indisputably – four! If you install only two winter tires on the front towing wheels, you risk ending up with low grip vehicle, especially on turns. For example, on left turn because of the low traction of the summer tires with the surface, the back part of the car reels to the right (and opposite), resulting many times going out of the roadway.

 Pressure in Winter Tires

It is not necessary to inflate the winter tires more differently than the summer ones. It is important to check the air pressure in the tires on regular basis – every two weeks and when the tires are cold.

 What Should Be the Grapple of the Winter Tires?

Winter tires with grapple that is lower than 3 mm could not guarantee you optimal handling and safety on the icy and snowy road surfaces. If the grapple reaches this stage of wearing out during the winter – make sure you change the tires for the next winter season! In some European countries, the tires which grapples are lower than 4 mm are no more considered to be winter. You should have that in mind when driving through such countries where the winter tires are obligatory.

Changing the Tires

The most common reason to change your vehicle tires is the wearing out of the protectors. The minimum depth of the channels of the protector is 1.6 mm. When this depth is less, the traction of the tire with the road surface is reduced and driving the vehicle becomes dangerous. At wet surface, the shallow channels could not lead away the water, which results “aqua-planning” and the loss of control over the vehicle. To ease the drivers, the car manufacturers place the so called wear and tear indicators. They are small blocks in the channels of the protector – at least 6 of them along the length of the tire – for tires over 12 inches they should be specific, so you can distinguish them from the pattern of the protector. When the protector wears out and level with the indicators you should think about changing your tires.

Of course, all the mechanical damages, parts tearing from the protector, cracks in the rubber and additional problems as result of violations of the tire armature – all necessitate immediate change of the tire.

 When to Balance Your Tires?

Let’s say you have covered distance around 9 000 kilometers after purchasing your tires. You should have in mind that – turns, unintentional hits, holes on the road surface, as well as driving on rough roads – all result uneven wearing out of the protector. If you don’t feel vibrations, it does not mean there aren’t. The uneven wear and tear of the protector results worse balance, which leads to warming up and wearing out of the tires.

 Rotation of the Tires

The tires of each vehicle are wearing out irregularly depending on the wheel they are installed. That’s the reason why rotation of tires (changing places) is applied and the goal is to increase the life of the tire protector. Rotation is recommended after each 8000 kilometers – no matter if there is a visible uneven wearing out.

 The Reasons behind the Blown Tire

  • Driving with speed that exceeds the maximum or is equal to the defined by the speed index of the tires.
  • Overload of the tires due to heavy weight that is more than the tire index.
  • Low pressure level leads to great flexion of the tire sides and it disintegrates.
  • If the pressure is too high and you are driving in warm weather, the tires self-inflate and could blow.
  • Usage of the tire after a bubble has appeared.
  • Partial or fully shearing of the tire, caused by sharp objects.
  • Using very old tires(10 years or more)
  • Organic solutions as petrol, engine oil etc. could decompose the rubber and weaken the layers of the tire.
  • Damages on the chassis or bad adjustment could lead to side or wavy wearing out and grooves in the protector.
  • If you stop with a jerk at high speed and block the tires, they could wear out locally and become unusable because of the worse balance.
  • Problems that come from molten rubber as result of a contact with hot object.


 Here are some of the indicators placed on the tires that could be helpful for you:

  • Temperature indicator – shows the endurance in case of temperature raise. “A” – is the highest, “C” – the lowest.
  • Traction degree – shows the braking properties on wet road surface. “A” – is the highest, “C” – the lowest.
  • Wearing out degree – comparing level for the life of the protector. For example, tire with class 200 would have two times longer life than the one with 100. The levels are usually between 60 and 600 – at an interval of 20. It is important to know that this is an approximate indicator – the actual life of the protector depends on the quality of the road surface, the driving style, the proper tire pressure and many other factors. We could not assume that level 100 is certain 50000 kilometers for example.


James Phrost currently works for one of the leading tire manufacturers – Michelin Norway. The company is specialized in the creation of summer tires (in Norway, the experts reffer to it as sommerdekk) and winter tires (in Norwegian – vinterdekk).

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