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Do I need winter tires?

If you face winter road conditions (dry or wet roads below 7°C, or even snow or ice) you should consider fitting tyres certified for winter use as attested by the 3PMSF marking (3PMSF - 3 Peak Montain Snow Flake).
These tyres are designed to perform better in a wide range of wintry conditions such as cold dry, wet and snowy roads.
They also improve your vehicle’s grip, performance, safety in these conditions and they shorten your braking distances.

Winter or summer tyres

In cold temperatures, summer tyres without the 3 PMSF winter certification do not provide the performance that winter road conditions require. They are made with different materials that are optimised for warmer conditions and they can, for instance, harden under very cold temperatures, lowering their grip level. These summer tyres also have difficulty in gripping the road in snow or icy conditions.

The differences can be startling:
A typical car travelling at just 50 km/h1 on snow will take 60 metres to come to a halt with summer tyres without winter certification – a scary 30 metres more than if the same car is equipped with winter tyres. And stopping from 80km/h, you gain 4 metres2 with winter tyres on wet road.

1 Average gain in braking distance of a winter tyre compared to a summer tyre. Braking on snow road from 50 to 0 km/h, carried out between -4 and -6°C - Tests TÜV Süd 2013, with 205/55 16 H tyre.

2 Average gain in braking distance of a winter tyre compared to a summer tyre. Braking on wet road from 80 to 0 km/h, carried out between 4 and 6°C - Tests TÜV Süd 2013, with 205/55 16 H tyre.

Three peak mountain snowflake symbol and “M+S”

Three Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol

Only tyres which have the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol (a snowflake inside a mountain) have been tested1 for use in severe snow conditions. They meet or exceed industry-established snow-traction performance requirements.

1 Brake efficiency or traction tests under Winter conditions according to the ETRTO (European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation) method.

“M+S” means Mud and Snow tyres

They have been specially designed to improve your car’s performance in mud and fresh or melting snow.
This marking indicates that the tyre is, according to European rulings, a “snow” tyre but performances under Winter conditions have not been subject to testing.
So even if a tyre has a “M+S” marking, it can only be considered to be a true winter tyre if it also has the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol. On the other hand, all winter tyres carry the “M+S” mark.

Lifecycle of winter tyres

Wear

Winter tyres do not wear more quickly than other tyres. The rubber is different, but comparable in durability.

When should I replace them?

As for summer tyres, winter tyres should be replaced when the legal tread wear indicator is reached (1.6mm remaining tread depth). In addition, for MICHELIN Winter tyres, a marking in the shape of a snow flake on the tyre sidewall indicates the location of a wear indicator at 4mm remaining tread depth. This intermediate wear indicator is usefull to support users in some European countries with specific winter regulation . Nevertheless, thanks to the MICHELIN 3D sipes on the full tread depth, Michelin winter tyres maintain their winter performance below this indicator.

Put winter tyres on all four wheels

For maximum safety and control over your vehicle in cold weather conditions, fit winter tyres on all four wheels.

Why not only two tyres?

  • Fitting winter tyres just on the front axle can mean that the rear axle slides more easily. You increase the risk of spinning the vehicle under acceleration (rear-wheel drive cars) or when turning (for front or rear wheel drive cars).
  • Fitting only two winter tyres on the rear axle increases the risk of sliding straight forward when you try to take a turn. This configuration will also impact strongly the traction performance on a front wheel drive car.
  • In any case, fitting only 2 winter tyres on your car will reduce vehicle stability during breaking phases and under emergency driving situation.

You need winter tyres on 4WD (AWD)

4WheelDrive does provide optimised power transmission delivery but minimal improvment compared to a 2WheelDrive car in turning and braking situations, particularly on bends. With winter tyres, you can feel optimised levels of traction during all manoeuvres including acceleration, braking and turning.

Do I need studded tyres?

You drive more on icy roads than snowy roads?

Studded tyres are the right choice for you. If you are travelling in Europe, remember that certain countries have a specific winter tyres regulation (Winter Regulation). For example, in Germany, studded tyres are forbidden.

You drive more on snowy roads or a variety of different road conditions?

Non-studded winter certified tyres could be a better choice.

What are studded tyres?

Tyres with metal studs inserted into the tread to increase grip on ice, making it easier to start and stop on the least friendly road surfaces imaginable.

Studded tyres are not ideal for driving on roads that are not covered with ice, as they can increase braking distance, road noise and wear.

When should I install my winter tyres?

You should install your winter tyres from October, when the temperature drops below 7 °C to April

Installation and more:

Ask a technician to make sure that the tyres are rotated from where they were during the last winter season.
You should also ask for the remaining tread depth to be measured and the air pressure to be adjusted.

Air Pressure

Check your tyre pressure each month

The tyre pressure decrease with the temperature. For example, if a tyre has a pressure of 2 bar (29 psi) at 20 °C , the pressure may be only 1.8 bar (26 psi) at 0 °C. So it’s really important to check your pressure at least once a month.

Adjusting pressure in cold temperatures

If you are adjusting your tyre pressure outside in ambient temperature, set it to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressures.

Adjusting pressure in warm temperatures

If you are adjusting your tyre pressure in a warm garage or workshop, add 0.2 bar (3 psi) to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressures. This will allow you to compensate for the cold temperature and run at the correct tyre pressure.

Storage

Why should I care about storage?

You can increase the life and performance of your tyres with proper handling and storage.

Step-by-step:

  1. Before removing your tyres, note their position on your car. Next winter, you should rotate their positions to balance their wear.
  2. Clean your wheels and tyres with water and dry them well to avoid any corrosion.
  3. Remove any stones or debris that have been trapped in the tyre grooves.
  4. Tyres should always be stored away from light, in a cool, dry and clean indoor environment; if tyres sit outdoors unused for long periods of time (a month or more), their surfaces become dry and surface cracks can appear.
  5. Don’t store them near solvents (fuel, oils, etc.).

About snow chains

  • Snow chains should be used on packed snow.
  • If you don't own a set, quality retailers can advise you on the most suitable snow chains for your vehicle and tyre size. There should be, on average, a minimum of 12 chains crossing the tyre.
  • Before your journey, take the time to learn how to install and remove the chains efficiently.

If you're travelling to certain ski resorts you may be required to install snow chains even if you have winter tyres fitted on your car (check before you travel) .

Windscreen safety

A small crack on the windscreen may, in the extreme cold, become a large crack. Therefore you should have it repaired before winter sets in.

Winter material check list

In case of emergencies, you may get stuck or need to spend time in your car waiting for help. Make sure that your vehicle is equipped with:

  1. Four winter-capable tyres
  2. A shovel
  3. A tyre gauge, jack and a fully inflated spare
  4. Gravel, salt or a small piece of carpet
  5. Non-perishable food
  6. Jump leads
  7. Emergency flares
  8. Warm clothes or a blanket
  9. A first-aid kit
  10. Windscreen fluid
  11. Head torch or lamp
  12. Snow chain to face exceptional situations in severe winter conditions

Before getting on the road

1. Plan your route and check the road conditions

Checking reports on road conditions will help you to make driving decisions and avoid dangerous situations. If conditions are particularly bad, you may want to stay off the roads.

2. Emergency phone numbers

Identify the person/people to call in case of emergency in your list of mobile phone contacts.

3. Check your fluids

Make sure that you always have at least half a tank of fuel to avoid a frozen fuel line. Also, carry extra windscreen fluid to ensure proper visibility.