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Winter tyres: is it time to get a grip?

Published: 16/12/11

Winter tyres: is it time to get a grip?

We wouldn't send our child out in the rain without a coat on or a rugby player onto a muddy field without studded boots, so why send your drivers out in winter conditions with tyres designed for a warm summer's day?

Naturally for small firms expense is the major issue, but with the next big freeze expected any time, consider how much business downtime and potential accidents might cost you?

With a majority of business vehicles easily getting through two sets of tyres in their lifetime, it is reasonable for one of those to be a dedicated cold weather set for use from October to March. Advance planning and getting your order in before the big rush, means that they shouldn’t cost you much more than the normal summer models.

It's a common misconception that winter tyres are reserved for snow - this is just 15% of the benefit according to Continental, Europe's leading supplier of winter tyres. They claim their winter tyres will reduce stopping distance at 30mph by up to 8 metres on a snowy road.

The biggest proportion of the benefit of winter tyres (45%) actually comes in wet weather (a mainstay of the British winter), where the superior compound and tread patterns can take 4.8m off stopping distances in the rain.

The final advantage, representing 40% of the return on investment for winter tyres, simply comes in dry weather on a cold day - with stopping distances reduced by around 11m on icy roads from 20mph. Every time ambient temperatures falls below 7°C, you're simply safer on a winter tyre.

The winter of 2009-10 was one of the coldest in the last 30 years, with the heaviest snowfall in 18 years. Mid-way through the season, on-line grocery retailer Ocado decided to make the switch - becoming the only UK company to fit winter tyres to its entire delivery fleet. Co-founder Tim Steiner said: "We wanted to be proactive, rather than waiting for the roads to be gritted or the sun to come out! By fitting winter tyres to our delivery vans, we hope to be able to go places and do things others cannot."

They weren't wrong. Whilst many Surrey residents were stuck at home during the inclement weather, Ocado's Byfleet delivery depot continued to send vans out over their delivery area from Oxford to Brighton. Meanwhile, customers from other supermarkets were left chasing refunds as their cards had been charged for groceries that never arrived.

Each Continental winter tyre comes with its own storage bag, so it's easy and clean to take home or you can simply book your summer tyres into the Kwik Fit "Tyre Hotel" where they will be stored in a central warehouse until the season is over.

Many car dealers, such as Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes now also offer specialist Winter Tyre Services that will help you replace your tyres on a seasonal basis and store the set that isn't currently fitted to the vehicle.

So you can spread your tyre costs over the life of your business cars, but more importantly benefit from enhanced mobility for your business over the winter period and increased staff safety thanks to the extra grip provided by winter tyres.

For any questions or concerns about keeping your fleet moving and fully covered contact John Bishop on 0845 371 0769 or email johnbishop@flintinsurance.co.uk


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