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Winter Tyre Test 2010
With the big freeze predicted to last well into the New Year, the UK automotive industry and government has to start taking winter tyres seriously, with a record number of breakdown callouts and UK roads becoming grid locked due to cars stuck in snow. Recently one of the largest UK weekly motoring magazine published there 2010 winter tyre test. Auto Express tested winter tyres in all types of conditions against a summer tyre for a fair comparison. All tyres tested where the same size and all fitted to the same vehicle.
The test for the winter tyre covered braking, traction and handling on a snow covered frozen lake. This type of condition is similar to what we have experienced in parts of the UK over the last few weeks with fresh snow on top of compact snow and ice. Braking was the first test to be carried out. The car drove at a speed of 25mph and then braked at a set point and then the stopping distance was measured, this was repeated until all the winter tyres, all season tyres and summer tyres had been measured. The Goodyear UltraGrip 7 Plus was the only tyre to stop before the 18 metre mark, but all other winter tyres performed extremely well and all stopped within 2 metres of the Goodyear. The all season tyre needed another 5 metres, while the summer tyre which most people have fitted to their cars in the UK stopped just before the 44 metre mark which is quite shocking as this is 25 metres longer than the winter tyre, more than double the stopping distance of the winter tyre! This could be the difference between a near miss and an expensive bump or even serious injury, as the car with the summer tyre will still be doing 20 mph when the car with the winter tyre would have stopped. The Goodyear tyre proved to be the best of the winter tyres when it came to traction, but all winter tyres outperformed the summer tyre in the traction test, with over 3 times the grip. In this test the car had to complete a lap using the winter tyres with each lap recorded. All winter tyres finished within seconds of each other, all around the 100 seconds mark. The summer tyre offered very little grip and took 160 seconds to complete the lap and it proved to be a real struggle just to get the car to the finish line.
For our UK winter climate the tyres wet performance is more important than the snow performance, with wet braking being the top priority. At temperatures below 7c the winter tyres performed best but above this temperature the summer tyre performed best on wet roads. The average UK winter temperature from 1971 -2000 has been 3.7c so this would again mean the best choice would be the winter tyre. The handling course was extremely close with 3 seconds between the best and the worst time, which was set by the all season tyre at a temperature of 7c. Unfortunately the weather for the handling course was not cold enough to find out if tyre performance changed due to a drop in temperature.
The Goodyears scored best on the aquaplaning test due to the aggressive tread design, and the all season tyre scored poorly and came in last place. Most of the winter tyres scored well on this test due to the tread pattern design.
The summer tyre won the dry braking test with a winning distance of just under 40 metres. The best winter tyre stopped just past the summer tyre at 44 metres, but this came as no real shock. The dry handling test proved to be much closer with the Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D and Nokian WRG2 finishing just behind the summer tyre lap time.
Fuel Economy and comfort
Some people think that winter tyres cost more to run and they use more fuel but once again Auto Express have proved that winter tyres are quiet, have a lower rolling resistance than the summer tyres.
Having fitted a set of Avon Ice winter tyres to my car when the bad weather started in November my Boss laughed as he couldnt believe I had pulled out for them, but he wasnt laughing when he spent an hour trying to dig his car out when he kept on getting his car stuck in his street. I can say from experience that everyone should think about fitting a set of winter tyres, then once winter has gone just replace them with your original tyres and keep your winter tyres safe till the next winter. The winter Tyre test has highlighted the importance of winter tyres to the UK public, thanks to the increased safety they bring.
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