Can I recommend using winter tyres following plenty of experience in Sweden?

Your advice on winter tyres is 100 per cent. As a conservative Brit living in Sweden (-15C at the moment with snow every day) I drive a front wheel drive Passat daily 150km over every type of road imaginable, from our gravel road in the countryside to fast motorways. I have reached a few conclusions after six years of this.

Winter tyres are a money saver. My normal tyres wear at half their normal rate, my alloys don't get corroded by salt (winter tyres on steel rims). Think what even a small bump costs in terms of time, no-claims bonus, hassle and potential injury? Snow chains, snow socks? Forget them - I have never seen anyone in Sweden use them. Either way they're too much hassle to put on take off or totally impractical for real-world road use - not needed with winter tyres. I wondered myself about 4WD and talked to a Swedish AA bloke. His experience of pulling lots of cars (including 4WD) out of ditches was that they do give an advantage when accelerating on ice, but that driven normally they simply encourage a false sense of security that often ends up in tears on bends.

Very capable winter tyres are available for £70-120 fitted per wheel (cost very much depends on wheel size). Changing over the wheels in late autumn and early spring I do myself with the Volkswagen's normal jack. Otherwise it costs about £20 at any garage. Sensibly driven, these tyres last about four years - can last much longer. It averages out at about £1 per day (but remember the savings in reduced wear on the summer tyres). Winter tyres and ESP have saved my bacon on many occasions.

Of course driving style and anticipation is critical but the extra traction that the wide, softer tread of winter tyres gives enormous advantages in slippery - not just icy - conditions. I have slid off the road once - no damage, luckily - after a three hour drive through a snowstorm on familiar roads in a 90 degree curve. When I climbed out of the car I fell straight over on the polished ice concealed under the snow. Nothing is going to help in such extreme circumstances, but in the 99 per cent of normal situations, winter tyres are a no-brainer.

Asked on 5 December 2012 by JH, Sweden

Answered by Honest John
Many thanks. All extremely good stuff and the message I have been trying to put across for more than two years. You have no idea how long it takes to beat some common sense into the brains of the obstinate, ignorant and argumentative Great British Public. Especially after an unusually mild winter with very little snow.
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