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Winter tyres: should you fit them? Are they any good - or a waste of money?

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Winter tyres are mandatory in a number of European countries - but not Ireland

Winter tyres are mandatory in a number of European countries - but not Ireland

Winter tyres are mandatory in a number of European countries - but not Ireland

In response to several emails (and letters) about winter/snow tyres, Brian Jaffray re-visits the topic with a quick Question & Answer session.

It hardly snows in Ireland so I do not need winter tyres?

Winter tyres are designed to perform better in weather conditions where there is ice and snow.

They are designed for climates where slush, mud and frost prevail during the winter months.

The roads here are gritted in bad weather. Why should I bother spending money on such tyres?

Even if gritting services perform well they can never cover all of the road networks. And that is especially the case if you live in a hilly area where extra grip is required. We've a lot of enquiries from people who live in hilly areas.

Winter tyres are expensive?

Safety is priceless.

Can I have winter tyres on the drive axle only?

No. Winter and summer tyres have completely difference performance characteristics.

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When put on one axle only they will have a big impact on the car's driving behaviour.

Can I drive the entire year on winter tyres?

It is not recommended. In summer with high temperatures winter tyres wear faster due to their softer compound.

Brake distances will also increase.

Changing to winter tyres is mandatory in seven European countries in the months from November to March while 15 other countries require a change over if weather conditions dictate.

What are the laws here?

There are no specific requirements here mandating or prohibiting the use of winter or snow tyres.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) advises motorists that if they fit a set of snow tyres, they should install a set of four to reduce the risks of over and understeer.

The RSA also advise that once the possibility of snow is gone for the season, you should remove the winter tyres and reinstall all-season or summer tyres.


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