M+S Marked Summer Tyres a Risk to Winter Driving, Warns Conti
Although the volume of cold weather tyres sold in the UK hints at a sun-kissed climate far out of kilter with reality, in other European countries the winter tyre market is big business and swapping over to winter rubber a seasonal duty for all motorists. For this reason, Continental has expressed dismay at the presence of numerous so-called winter tyres on the market; although these bear the much trusted M+S mark, the German manufacturer reports the tyres in question are “not or only slightly suitable for winter”. According to Conti, these M+S marked tyres are really all-season or summer tyres “produced cheaply in the Far East”, and therefore consumers should check carefully whether a tyre really is a winter tyre before making a purchase.
The Austrian automobile, motorcycle and touring club ÖAMTC recently carried out road tests with summer tyres carrying the M+S symbol. “The braking distance from 50km/h on a snowy road was more than double the braking distance with a proper winter tyre,” said ÖAMTC tyre expert Friedrich Eppel. “During the test, when the car with the winter tyres had already come to a standstill, the car with the poor quality tyres was still travelling at a residual speed of around 38 km/h,” he warned.
The Austrian test expert adds that the different traction forces when moving off were just as dangerous: Anyone pulling out of a snowed-in parking space or slip road with the pseudo winter tyres soon became a safety risk to other road users. The test car with the incorrect tyres took more than twice as long to accelerate from nought to 30 km/h in the snow. Moving off at traffic lights or even on a hill became a matter of luck rather than normality. Eppel concluded by saying that you should only purchase winter tyres with expert advice, and not just by looking at the price: “If you buy cheaply, you often pay more later.” The complete test is available – although unfortunately not in English – on the ÖAMTC homepage at www.oeamtc.at/reifentests.
Those wanting a “real” winter tyre, concludes Continental, are recommended to look out for not only the legally prescribed M+S marking, but also the snowflake symbol and a minimum tread depth of 4 mm.