As soon as temperatures start dropping below 7°C it is advised to mount winter tires on your car. At low temperatures these tires have far better performance than normal summer tires. Thanks to their special rubber compound and adapted tire profile, a winter tire provides good grip and traction on wet, snowy and frozen roads. We give some important tips and regulations regarding the use of these winter tires.
Always mount 4 winter tires
It’s not recommended to mount only 2 winter tires on the driven axle. If you have a front wheel driven car, this would mean that the acceleration of your car will improve, but in the corners your rear wheels will slip away, causing oversteer. On rear wheel driven cars you’ll see the opposite. While the rear wheels have good grip, the front wheels will slip away causing understeer. Car manufacturers thus advise to mount always 4 winter tires, and certainly on 4 wheel driven cars.
Preserve winter tires
Always take note of the position of the tires on your car (left-front, rear-right,…) before removing them. This way you can place the front tires on the rear and the rear tires on the front next winter season. This will ensure the tires wear evenly, extending their lifetime. Also clean the rims and tires to prevent rusting and check the tire pressure of you keep the tires on the rim. Preserve the tires horizontally on the ground or hanging on their rims. Keep them away from hydrocarbons such as gasoline or oil, and also from electrical equipment. These spread ozone gasses which are not good for the rubber compound of your tires.
Check speed limitations
Make sure that the maximum speed of the tires matches the top speed of your car (given by the car manufacturer). This maximum speed can be found on the tire itself. For example: 255/50 R 16 82H. The letter "H" says that the tire has a top speed of 210 km/h. If the tire’s top speed is lower then your cars, you are obliged to apply a sticker with the tires top speed within visible range of the driver on the dashboard.
Q 160 KM/H
S 180 KM/H
T 190 KM/H
H 210 KM/H
V 240 KM/H
Winter tires mandatory in Europe
In winter conditions (snow, sleet or ice) you must have a properly equipped car. This means not only having suitable winter tires, but also having a sufficient amount of washer fluid with antifreeze and engine oil suitable for low temperatures. In case of violation with these regulations, there is a €40 fine. If the inappropriate tires also cause a dangerous situation, the fine is €80. You are fully liable for accidents caused by faulty tires. If caught, the police can also escort you to the nearest tire plant to mount winter tires there.
Tires must be adapted to the road conditions. On mountain roads they are often required.
Between November 1 and April 15 it is obliged to drive with winter tires. Outside this period you can require winter tires on mountain roads. Winter tires must have at least 4 mm profile depth. A fine will cost 35 euros and if you are involved in an accident, this can go up to 5000 euros.
There are no special regulations for the use of winter tires. But if your vehicle is not equipped for a snowy road (no snow tires or snow chains) and is holding up traffic, you can be fined.
Winter tires or snow chains can be mandatory on some mountain roads, this is marked with special road signs. .
Everywhere the road is not cleared of snow, winter tires must be used. A minimum profile of 4mm is required.
Scandinavia and the Baltics
Winter tires are generally required. In Norway they are only mandatory in winter conditions.
Also for snow chains there are certain regulations. You can read them in our article.