The Middle Eastern motorists have now begun to familiarize themselves with the “strange” object called winter tire. That is tires specifically designed to make the best journey at low temperatures (below 7 °), in the wet, in the middle of snow or mud, and even on icy surfaces. It is no coincidence that they are recognized by the M + S marking (Mud + Snow, or mud + snow) and by the alpine pictogram, or a mountain with three peaks with a snowflake inside: the first is in practice a self-certification by the manufacturer, the second is granted after passing specific tests.
Since 2004, campaigns that were started by companies operating in the sector made under trade associations such as Assogomma and Federpneus. The training for in-depth studies has been fruitful, by progressing the national tire market from one million winter tires (15 years ago) to a total of 30 million sold annually, to the current 10 million.
Yes, about a third of the new tires sold each season are winter tyres. In line with the ordinances of some local administrations that provide them as equipment (together with the chains, however, allowed by law as an alternative solution) for cars in the winter months, from November 15th to April 15th.
But, why spend money and change your summer or all-season train with winter ones? Well, because they guarantee more tightness and shorter braking distances, in the conditions listed above. Which translates into greater security, something hard to quantify in money.
To measure the performance of different types of tires, Assogomma has organized specific tests at Sestriere on an icy surface, from which interesting data was collected, taking two cars of the same type, “fitting” the first one with regular covers and the second one with winter covers. Immediately after, using them in different exercises to fully understand the differences.
The cars used for the tests were Alfa Romeo Mito, Giulietta and Stelvio, the Maserati Ghibli and the Volvo V90 Cross Country. Moreover, the Equip with covers (Continental, GoodYear, Michelin, and Bridgestone). They were engaged in acceleration tests, braking (even downhill), circular ring and mountain road handling with inclines and declines.
Here is a summary of the results observed: Moving your car on ice and snow is always problematic. The wheels have no grip and often run idle, even more so if the tires are summer variants. But, with winter car tyres you have the optimal grip that allows you to start, move and manage critical situations such as curves and braking while maintaining the control and limiting the stopping times, even if there are hurdles on ice.
The function does not change whether you are driving a car or an SUV with an all-wheel-drive: even, in that case, the power is discharged to the ground optimally if the “shoes” of the car allow it. Therefore, being sheltered from possible problems regardless of which car you drive.
Some may say that the so-called “mixed” option, i.e. to assemble two summer tires plus two winter tires, can be implemented as a solution. Although the law does not prohibit it and tests have shown that in such cases, cars are even more ungovernable.
In short, it would be a good habit to use the correct tire (we can’t just write “lo”…) depending on the season. Check the state of wear (the thickness of the tread must not be less than 1.7 millimeters) and check that it is always inflated to the right pressure (the one shown in the booklet). So you travel safely and efficiently, given that it employs on average 15% of less fuel.