Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - Mutton Geoff

With the second consecutive nasty winter upon us, I decided to follow our Euro cousins and sort out some winter tyres for my A4. First step to get some steel rims. A set on Ebay but the seller was dodgy in replies to enquiries, so following advice here, simply rang Audi.

15" steel rims in stock for £38 plus VAT. A bargain. Next the tyres. Looked at the reviews here then tried to find them. My local fitters "highly recommending" Vredestein quatrac 3s which they happened to have in stock but online reviews suggest this is an all season tyre rather than a specific low temperature (UK winter type) tyre. Dunlop SP3D and Conti Wintercontact TS830s near the top of the reviews.

Pleased enough with the current low profile contis on the 17" rims, shopped around for the TS830s. Local place can't get them, online places quoting £110+ and 2 week delivery so I rang Continental UK and they were very helpful. Interestingly they suggested Kwikfit, not someone I would normally use.

Sure enough, they had them, in stock and for an offer price of £55 a corner. Booked and paid online and having them fitted on Sat. Will report back with an update.

A full set of new winter wheels with proper seasons tyres for under £450.

I rang my insurer (LV) to notify them of the mod and they said that their instruction was that winter wheels/tyres are not classed as a mod but thanks for calling.

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - rsvtoddy

Have TS800s on my Fabia VRS - they are excellent, as I'm sure yours will be!

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - craig-pd130

At what ambient temp is it recommended to switch back to the original tyres, please? Presumably the odd day where the ambient is above the specified temp won't hurt the tyre too much?

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - Collos25

7degrees is the recomended will not harm the tyres even if you use them in summer.

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - jon-

Agreed, modern winter tyres have a much wider operating window than they used to and something like a Conti 830P can actually be used year round without too much drop off in performance.

I think Conti have actually gone as far as to say if you only run one set of tyres year round, winter tyres are less off a compromise than summer tyres now.

I'd still want to stick with 2 sets, as I'm sure how ever good a winter tyre is it will never be good as a good summer tyre.

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - NARU

I run winter tyres all year round. I drive a big 4x4 so summer performance isn't top of my priorities anyway, and the nice chunky AT pattern works pretty well in the mud too.

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - Dutchie

I wouldt bother with two sets of tyres a good quality all weather tyre Like Vredestein only a small company competing with the big boys will last the year round .

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - arnold2

Ditto, running Nokian WR G2 all weathers on my Focus, I think in the UK you don't really need dedicated winter tyres, unless you have a big 4x4 and live somewhere with a lot of deep snow. Vredesteins are very good, too.

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - Mutton Geoff
There is a good point to running one set all year round as a compromise but in the last couple of years we've seen reasonable periods of time at 30 degrees C and again, the last two to three weeks has barely gone into positive digits.

I'm not sure that a set of all seasons in the size normally fitted (235/55/17) would be as cost effective as swapping. By changing the rims, I've fitted 195/65/15s which, assuming the contact pattern with the road is roughly a square, are only making half the physical contact with the tarmac as the low profiles (23.5cm squared vs 16.5cm squared). The dry stopping distance must be crippled but the completely different tread pattern and better flexibility of the tyre in low temps is already noticeable in the grip on a severely frosted road surface and the road/tyre noise level in the car is greatly reduced from the stock 235s.

If the winter set are on a 1/3rd of the year and wear at the same sort of rate as the mains then the cost of the rims (£180) will soon be met by the reduced cost of replacement rubber as the 195s cost less than half of the price of the 235s so for a third of the year I'm "burning" half price rubber.

Having driven round the Alps and Cotswolds last winter on the 235s I noticed how slippery they were on snow and ice as I guess it was the equivalent of having 4 tea trays in contact with the road whereas now I've got four bicycle wheels. In the Alps it was always those little French cars on thin width wheels that were scooting around the villages without chains so there must be some advantage in having narrow profile tyres on poor road surfaces.

Finally the greater amount of rubber between the (cheap) rim and road is also going to act as a useful buffer against potholes after a rim was damaged last year on a 6" deep hole.

All in all, to me, worth the cost of 4 steel rims and getting the wheels off twice a year and I haven't tested them in anger yet.

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - Mutton Geoff

Edit to correct my maths

> only making 70% of the physical contact with the tarmac as the low profiles (23.5cm squared vs 19.5cm squared)

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - ForumNeedsModerating

> only making 70% of the physical contact with the tarmac as the low profiles (23.5cm squared vs 19.5cm squared)

How are you doing the calcluation? I think the contact area will be the same - just a different shape, i.e. longer rather than broader.

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - ForumNeedsModerating

It also seems that your rolling circumferences between the 2 tyres (i.e 195 & 235)

- given your measurements - are nearly 170mm different.

So something not quite right I'd say.

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - Roly93

7degrees is the recomended will not harm the tyres even if you use them in summer.

I assume they would just wear like crazy in warmer temps...

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - massimo_no17

Hi there, may I ask what model of A4 you have?

I have the B8 A4 Avant, that I purchased this year. I want to get some steel rims and want to know if they would fit. Ideally spending the amount that you did. £38 +VAT

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - Mutton Geoff

Mine is a 2004 B6 that came with 17" alloys. In the original brochure, the base model came with 15" wheels, so I knew they would fit round the brake callipers. Audi Guildford were helpful on the phone confirming the right part number/offset etc and the wheels were delivered (to them for collection) within 48 hours even when the weather was like this a couple of weeks ago.

Today I was able to try out the new tyres properly. All I can say is they are fantastic, very good traction for pulling away and braking. Aggressive throttle was needed to get the ESP light to flash and only hard braking triggered the ABS on quite bad side roads that had all sorts of vehicles stuck or wheels spinning.

I drove down several side roads where the foot thick snow was untouched and I could hear it rubbing on the bottom of the car. The tyres performed very well. The packed ice/snow on small hills near me had many motorists struggling and trying to resist being smug I wound my way through the stranded vehicles.

They seem up to anything a UK winter might throw at them.

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - barchettaman
I'm now in my 5th winter in Frankfurt, and on my new Zafira have a set of nearly-new Pirelli winter tyres on steel rims, bought 2nd hand for €220. On our old Astra ('99) we continue to run the same set of Continental winter tyres, bought 2nd hand in 2005 for €75.

The difference once you get the WTs on is just unbelievable. I drive neither car like the proverbable ball of fire, but in snow I just don't need to woory about traction. Ever.

I would recommend anyone readin this thread to get a set of WTs on seperate rims for the period Nov-March.
Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - Mutton Geoff

How are you doing the calcluation? I think the contact area will be the same - just a different shape, i.e. longer rather than broader.

I don't think the tyre will be squashed more on the road surface, the footprint looks approx square on the 195 and 235 tyres, hence my calcs of 19.5x19.5 vs 23.5x23.5cm

It also seems that your rolling circumferences between the 2 tyres (i.e 195 & 235)
- given your measurements - are nearly 170mm different. So something not quite right I'd say.

Firstly, another error crept in - the summer tyres are 235/45/17 not 235/55/17 hence the concern that I'd altered the diameter of my rubber.

To answer the points above, the 195 and 235 dimensions are the width across the tyre tread in mm so don't affect the rolling dimension. It's the profile of the tyre vs the rim diameter that changes this and 235/45s on a 17" rim measure 64cm dia (circumference approx 200cm) and the 195/65s on a 15" rim also measure 64cm so have the same circumference/ride height etc.

Using a calculator such as the one at www.tyresave.co.uk/tyresiz2.html, it shows a very small discrepancy, one approaching the tolerance in a tyre diameter between new and part worn and one I couldn't even differentiate myself with the two wheels side by side.

Now where's that edit button?

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - ForumNeedsModerating

To answer the points above, the 195 and 235 dimensions are the width across the tyre tread in mm so don't affect the rolling dimension

Yeah, I know - I couldn't be fagged to write out 235/55/17 etc for both - anyway, your typo explains why.

I don't think the tyre will be squashed more on the road surface, the footprint looks approx square on the 195 and 235 tyres, hence my calcs of 19.5x19.5 vs 23.5x23.5cm

The contact patch conforms fairly linearly (in most cases for road tyres) to:

contact patch area = weight / tyre pressure

So the contact patch will change shape, but not overall size, at the recommended pressure for the tyre on the same vehicle.

I'd also make sure your Ins. Co. understand you've not just changed the type of tyre, but also the size of the tyres & rims themselves - they may have just heard 'winter tyres'.

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - Mutton Geoff

contact patch area = weight / tyre pressure

Thanks for that info, I didn't know that.

I'd also make sure your Ins. Co. understand you've not just changed the type of tyre, but also the size of the tyres & rims themselves - they may have just heard 'winter tyres'.

Yep, all done, and in fact it felt easier telling them I bought the wheels from Audi as they specified them for my car rather than explaining I'd bought a set from Ebay that I know would fit. I confirmed that our conversation was recorded as proof of notification even though they said no confirmation was needed.

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - ForumNeedsModerating

I only mentioned the insurqance company thing, because I wanted to 'downsize' tyres like you're doing with your winter set. My insurance co, when I mentioned this, were very wary & uncertain about actual tyre/rim size changes - even though, like yours, smaller size rim/tyre combos come in the same car model type etc.

I'm such a cynic re insurance company's abilty to deny a claim (should it come to it) on the tiniest breach or question mark over the configuation of the car and/or 'modifications' etc, that I kept mine bog standard. Anyway, enjoy your tyres MG!

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - Steven Quas

I use Continental Winter Contact tyres and find them excellent.

Steven Quas , Hamburg

Audi A4 Avant - Winter tyres - my experience so far - Mutton Geoff

As an update to this thread, we toured the Cotswolds over Christmas and the car behaved remarkably. Temperatures were down as low as -8C with a heavy covering of snow on the lesser used roads but this was no problem for the Audi with the winter tyres fitted.

In my experience driving many types of vehicle over the last 35 years, fitting winter tyres has been the single biggest improvement I have seen. The car was able to navigate lanes where only tractors had passed with the ESP light only occasionally flickering and the ABS only kicking in on patches of ice.

When it was clear and safe to do so, I deliberately pushed the car, both to go and stop and was very impressed with the performance of these tyres.

As they are slimmer than the regular fit and are more flexible at low temperatures, the road noise is greatly reduced even driving on clear dry roads.

The temperature has now been regularly above 10 degrees for the last week or so, it may be time to swap back though I will miss the appearance that my car has had all the alloys nicked!

Spending +/- £450 on the rims/tyres was money well spent and gave me the confidence to go anywhere this winter without the fear of getting stuck.

Edited by Mutton Geoff on 06/02/2011 at 17:01

 

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