Essential winter tyre care tips

Gareth Herincx

19 hours ago
Auto Blog

With extreme weather just around the corner it’s more important than ever to make sure your tyes are in tip-top condition.

We’ve teamed up with Goodyear to help you stay safe on the roads over the winter with these five tips…

1) Check your pressures regularly
It’s important to regularly check your tyre pressures throughout the winter. Lower temperatures can cause tyre pressures to drop, meaning the contact patch will be larger and making it more difficult to gain traction on snow and ice. Always run your tyres to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI or BAR.

2) Tread carefully
Having adequate tread depth is essential, whatever the weather. However, when your tyres are trying to grip wet and icy roads, it’s even more important that they have suitable tread. The legal limit for minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, across three-quarters of the tread and around the entire circumference of the tyre. As well as helping your tyres grip the road more effectively throughout the winter months, regular checks to keep your tread above the legal limit can help to avoid three penalty points and a hefty fine.

3) Consider fitting winter or all-season tyres
Most cars are fitted with summer tyres as standard, as opposed to winter or all-season tyres like Goodyear’s Vector 4Seasons Gen-3. However, the compound on summer tyres remains hard in cold temperatures, whereas a winter or all-season tyre retains its pliability and moulds to the shape of the road to retain grip. As a result, the sipes in the tread design of a winter or all season tyre will grip to snowy and icy roads much more effectively. Most manufacturers will recommend using winter tyres in temperatures below 7°C.

4) Know your braking distances
If you’re using summer tyres in winter conditions, you will need to re-evaluate your braking distances. Research from the British Tyre Manufacturers Association (BTMA) shows that when braking on icy roads at 20mph, a car fitted with winter tyres will come to a rest after 57m, while summer tyres will keep going for as far as 68m. Regardless of what kind of tyres they’re using, it’s vital that drivers keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

5) How does the tyre look?
While you should carry out proven checks on your tyre pressures and tread, it’s also important to simply look for cosmetic damage. Look for rips, tears or bulges before setting off and make sure to check your pressure, especially if your car hasn’t moved for a few days.

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Driving peace of mind with all-season tyres

BMW I Series - Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 tyres - wet

We get to grips with a set of Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 tyres

The weather here in the UK is highly changeable. It’s said that we talk about it more than any other nation and we have more words to describe it than any other language. There are even times of the year when we seem to experience four seasons in a day.

So, a car tyre that promises superior grip on summer and winter roads, plus excellent braking and handing in all weather conditions makes absolute sense.

Apparently, the all-season sector is one of the fastest growing in the tyre industry, but can an all-rounder be as good as two sets of tyres – one for the summer and another for the winter?

Tyre test

Unless you have access to state-of-the-art tyre evaluation facilities, there’s no better time to road-test new rubber than a straight swap with an existing set on a car you know well.

Earlier this year I bought my first BMW – a cherished 59-reg 1 Series with just 60,000 miles on the clock.

Even though it had a fresh MOT, the tyres were a disappointment. A mix of two brands I’d never heard of and a new cheapo (presumably to get it through the test), an upgrade was a priority.

What better time to take Goodyear up on a long-standing invitation to try out its acclaimed new Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 tyre, promising “excellent driving performance in all weather conditions, all year long”.

BMW I Series - Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 tyres

The first thing you notice about the Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 is the asymmetric tread pattern, complemented with deep and wide grooves, designed to disperse water (preventing aquaplaning) and offer excellent grip in all conditions.

Compared to the Gen-2 tyre, Goodyear says the improved structure aids dry braking by a claimed 5%, while changes to the tread offer better performance in wet and snowy conditions.

The new tread design also has more centre sipes – the narrow gaps that “bite” the snow – again creating a 5% improvement in handling on snow compared with the previous generation.

On the road

Once the Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3s had been fitted, I was in for a surprise. The improved comfort level and muffling of road noise was immediately noticeable.

Typically, I had to wait several weeks before I got to drive in the wet, but the dry spell did give me ample opportunity to compare them with my previous summer tyres.

BMW I Series - Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 tyres

Frankly, the difference wasn’t huge, which is a credit to Goodyear, because winter tyres typically have less traction in warm weather and stopping distances are increased.

Nevertheless, the stiffer construction of the Vector 4Seasons Gen-3s definitely improved dry handling and stability when cornering hard.

When the rain finally came, it was biblical, so I couldn’t wait to get out to experience them in wet weather.

Naturally, I was initially cautious (after all, the BMW is rear-wheel drive), but it soon became apparent that the Gen-3 set was working its magic on the soaked tarmac – building confidence, but not overdoing it either.

The lanes around my village, which are often caked in mud left by tractors, can become treacherous during downpours. Again, the all-season tyres seemed to take it in their stride.

I’ll take Goodyear’s word for it when it comes to improved braking performance in the wet. If there was a difference, it was marginal.

Season’s greetings

Despite my ‘four seasons in a day’ comment earlier, it’s still too early for snow and ice here in the South West, so I’ll also have to reserve judgement for now. All I do know is that from the reviews I’ve read (plus comments form actual buyers), the Gen-3 is the next best thing to a hardcore snow tyre.

Rest assured, I’ll be back in the bleak mid winter after I’ve had a chance to test the Vector 4Seasons Gen-3s in sub-zero conditions, putting Goodyear’s claim that they deliver better grip and handling in the snow to the test.

In the meantime, I’m mightily impressed – the Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 is a truly versatile premium tyre at a remarkably competitive price.

Right now, it’s not even winter yet and I’m almost looking forward to a frost or a blanket of the white stuff. I must be mad…