The vast majority of the tyres we fit to cars in Ireland are classified as Summer tyres. In many European countries, there are laws surrounding when these can be used and when they have to be replaced with Winter tyres but that is not the case in Ireland.
So, what is a winter tyre and do we need them in Ireland? The rubber compound in Winter tyres is different to Summer tyres. It is designed to provide more grip at lower temperatures. They also contain more sipes (small cuts in the rubber) which allow the tyre to regain grip on an icy road faster. They are marked with a 3PMSF (3 peaks, mountain, snow flake)or M+S (mud and snow) symbol.
There are several reasons Winter tyres need to be removed in the Spring. The rubber compound is less effective at higher temperatures but fuel consumption rises and the wear and tear on parts is thought to increase.
With a few exceptions over the last decade or so, the vast majority of irish motorists don’t come across extreme winter conditions and cannot justify having two sets of tyres.
What about All-Season Tyres? An all-season tyre is a hybrid of a Summer and a Winter tyre. It has a lot of the extra grip of the winter tyre but doesn’t need to be removed in the Spring. It is really well suited to the milder Irish climate but with the added benefits during icy spells. Something to be aware of, an all-season tyre cannot be fitted opposite a Summer tyre on the same axle. All the major tyre manufacturers now offer all-season tyres reflecting the growing market for all-season tyres in Ireland.