Should I use narrower tyres in winter?
Until recently, the majority of drivers thought that they should use tyres one size narrower than those used in summer. However, this solution has also its drawbacks and experts recommend to use tyres of identical parameters. Why?
There still is a belief among drivers that narrower tyres should be used in winter than in summer. It is because those tyres have a smaller contact area, but higher pressure per inch, thanks to which they grip snow better and provide better traction. It is partly true, but the solution has also its drawbacks.
A narrower tyre provides better grip on snow and a smaller risk of the so-called aquaplaning. At the same time, this solution is related to a longer braking distance, when the surface is dry, wet or when you drive through packed snow, and to worse grip when turning. We cannot forget about the fact that the great technological advancement in tyres production and latest winter tyres are advanced to the level and have such a good performance that they can cope with griping snow and you will not feel the difference between a narrower and a wider tyre.
- Car manufacturers recommend specific sizes of tyres for vehicles for a reason. Safety systems, such as ABS and ASR, are adjusted to them and may not work correctly in case of narrower tyres – explains Ernest Pujszo, Project Manager of Oponeo.co.uk. Sometimes it happens that narrower winter tyres are recommended by manufacturers of specific vehicles, but it happens mainly in case of vehicles of greater power. It has to be remembered that in case of more powerful vehicles, you have to pay attention when turning, because accelerating may make a tyre, which is one size smaller, to lose the grip.
Narrower winter tyres may be used mainly by people who do not live in cities, where the risk of driving through roads with lingering snow is higher. This is when tyres will provide better setting off and it will be harder to get buried. However, in such situations, we have to remember about the drawbacks of this solution, that is worse grip when turning and a longer braking distance.
That is why the majority of manufacturers of both vehicles and tyres, recommend to use winter tyres in the same size as the summer tyres. Thanks to that, we will not drive off course, the braking distance will be appropriately short and all vehicle systems will function correctly. It is a safer and smarter solution than mounting narrower tyres.