ADAC has tested a total of 35 winter tires for small cars and the lower middle class. In total, five tires have scored "good" and four "poor". Here are the test results.
It is still one of the most important status symbols for Germans, and according to various studies, men in particular know it better than their own bodies: we are talking about the car. But when it comes to the subject of winter tires, many car drivers find themselves in a mental tailspin. Many myths and misconceptions about winter tires persist: are winter tires mandatory?? Do winter tires really cause higher fuel consumption?? And aren’t all-season tires the more sensible solution?? Die welt" confronts the common myths with reality.
Winter tires are compulsory in the winter months
"from o to o" – that is, from october to easter: this is the common rule of thumb for when car drivers should be on the road with winter tires. And most drivers comply: according to a recent study by the online portal autoscout24, 52 percent of them change their tires in october. However, there is no specific deadline for fitting tires designed for winter road conditions.
If the sun is shining and the road is dry, you can always drive with summer tires – regardless of whether it is already January or the thermometer is showing minus degrees. And if you always leave your car in the garage anyway when it’s snowing, icy or slippery, and prefer to use public transport in winter road conditions, you can do without winter tires altogether.
In Germany, only the so-called situational winter tire obligation applies. What is meant is that in snow, ice and slippery roads, only winter tires may be used. Experts nevertheless recommend changing tires in good time. "at the latest when the temperatures drop permanently below seven degrees celsius, it’s time for winter tires," says frank mauelshagen, motor vehicle expert of the ergo insurance group.
The reason: at temperatures of seven degrees and below, the rubber compound of conventional summer tires hardens. Winter tires offer better grip – whether there is snow or not.
You risk a warning at most
You risk at most a warning
Anyone who does not drive with winter tires in wintry road conditions risks a fine of 60 euros and a point in flensburg. If other road users are impaired due to the wrong tires, sometimes even double the amount is payable.
However, only those who are actually caught driving have to pay. If an overzealous police officer writes up parked cars, the owners concerned should appeal against the decision. Especially since the driver is solely responsible for driving without winter tires – there is no liability on the part of the owner.
Winter tires are all the same
But much more painful than possible fines are the insurance consequences in the event of an accident: "if drivers have an accident on snow and ice with summer tires, they can even be asked to pay for the damage," warns ergo expert mauelshagen.
Because: in cases of gross negligence – which is what deliberate driving with the wrong tires is usually considered to be – comprehensive motor vehicle insurance does not cover the damage incurred. If a car with summer tires collides with another vehicle on an icy road, good winter tires can be recognized by the M+S label
The abbreviation M+S stands for "mud and snow" and should therefore identify winter tires. However, it is not legally protected and can also be found on numerous tires that are not suitable for winter use. When buying winter tires, drivers should therefore also look for the snowflake symbol.
Only tires marked with this label achieve at least seven percent better driving characteristics in winter road conditions compared to a reference tire and therefore meet the legal requirements.
In addition, not all winter tires are the same – as shown in the annual test by ADAC and stiftung warentest. This year, 35 winter tires for small and mid-size cars were tested according to various criteria. According to the ADAC, five tires met "demanding minimum requirements" in dry, wet, icy and snowy conditions and were therefore rated "good". Four tested models, on the other hand, received the grade "unsatisfactory". They had shown great weaknesses, especially on wet roads.
You cannot drive fast with winter tires
That’s no longer true: now there are even models that can go over 270 km/h. The maximum permitted speed is indicated by the speed index on the tire sidewall. "T" stands for a maximum speed of 190 km/h, "H" for 210 km/h, "V" for 240 km/h.
When winter tires become mandatory
Every year, as autumn begins, drivers ask themselves whether they should put on winter tires now. If you want to avoid a fine, you should adhere to the following rules.
Source: die welt
In general, however, speeding in winter road conditions is not a good idea. "in snow and ice, the braking distance can be up to four times longer than on dry surfaces," warns automotive expert mauelshagen. "one should therefore adapt speed and safety distance to weather conditions and road conditions."
The allegedly higher fuel consumption with winter tires is also a myth. because the differences in the construction of summer and winter tires are small today. Winter tires have a similar tread design to summer tires, but the cold specialists have sipes and a different rubber compound.
The rolling resistance of modern winter tires is almost on a par with that of summer tires, and unlike their predecessors with coarse tread, modern winter tires are neither particularly loud nor do they compromise ride comfort.
All-season tires are a sensible alternative
According to an autoscout24 study, 13 percent of german drivers use all-season tires. Saving time, money and effort by changing tires in the fall and spring sounds tempting. All-season tires are clearly only a compromise," says daniel bott from the ADAC technical center in landsberg am lech.
They would show their weaknesses either in winter or in summer. If they are at the same level as winter tires in snow, ice and cold, they would have disadvantages on dry roads in summer, explains bott. Due to the design of the tread pattern and the sipe setting, for example, they provide less grip on the road.
Conversely, tires that are strong in summer are weak in winter. "car drivers don’t get stuck in the snow right away, but they have no safety reserves," says bott. If you are driving on snowy roads with all-season tires, you have to reduce your speed compared to real winter tires. However, the wear of all-season tires is not higher compared to special tires.
A tread depth of 1.6 millimeters is sufficient
On slippery roads, the key technical advantage over summer tires is the fine siping of the tread, which then ensures the best possible grip. However, this siping is only partially present when the tires are worn to a certain degree. The ADAC therefore recommends a minimum tread depth of four millimeters for winter tires.
It’s easy to measure with a two-euro piece: if the silver edge disappears in the tread, it’s still deep enough – if not, it’s better to buy new tires. However, you do not risk a fine here: the law only requires a tread depth of 1.6 millimeters for all tires – in summer and winter alike. For your own protection and that of other road users, however, you should not drive too close to this limit value.