Should you fit winter tyres to your car? - Test and results

We test four tyre categories in dry, wet and snowy conditions to find out which is best suited to the UK

The tests 

We took to the indoor ski slope of Tamworth Snowdome for our snow traction test. The rest of our tests were conducted using the tracks and surfaces of the MIRA Proving Ground. Outside ambient temperatures hovered between 15 to 18 degrees Celsius, which, in most scenarios should favour the summer tyre.

The results

Snow braking 30-0mphWet braking 50-5mphDry braking 60-5mphSnow tractionWet handlingDry handling
Summer with winter cert.39.76m34.74m36.88m=2nd55.30sec43.37sec

Surprisingly, despite clear advantages in dry braking and dry handling tests, the summer tyre wasn’t able to completely capitalise on the warm weather. Instead, it was the least consistent tyre across all tests. 

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While it comfortably led the way when braking from 50-5mph in the dry – it slowed to 5mph 6.7 metres earlier than the winter – and performed best in the wet braking test, it fell well short of the mark on snow.

When braking from 30-0mph on simulated snow, the full winter was 22 per cent better than the all-season and 34 per cent better than the winter certified summer. But the summer was a significant 69 per cent behind – requiring an extra 20.4 metres to stop.

The summer was also hopeless on our ski slope traction test, barely moving the Octavia at all while all other tyres made it to the top – the full winter leading the way. Interestingly, the all-season and summer with winter certification tyres were almost indistinguishable in this test.

The Goodyear all-season performed admirably throughout – it finished mid-pack in most tests – but Michelin’s summer with winter certification tyre impressed in these warmer temperatures, hanging on to the summer tyre in the dry and wet tests, but performing substantially better on snow.

In fact, our findings show that for those of us in warmer parts of the UK at least, the CrossClimate represents a very attractive option. Nothing can beat the winter tyre on snow – it even performed best in the wet handling test – but the drop off experienced in the dry, particularly during heavy braking, means that those who refuse to periodically swap tyres would be safer on CrossClimates instead of summers – though, as confirmed by our findings, nothing can beat running summer tyres in summer and winter tyres in winter.

Note: the video above wasn't part of our test - our snow brake test was on flat ground.

Whatever you make of the results, if there’s one thing we can take from this test it’s this: running summer tyres in snow is dangerous. Even if we only experience a few days of settled snow a year, venturing onto the road with summer tyres not only means you could easily get stuck, it also substantially increases your chances of having a very big crash. It’s just not worth it. 

You can view a graph of our test results below. What tyres will you be fitting to your car this winter? Let us know in the comments underneath.

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