While there can be dangerous road conditions year-round, winter months bring their own set of hazards including rain, snow, wet leaves and black ice. For this reason, many people opt to swap out their ‘normal’ tyres with winter tyres. But, with harsh winters being unusual in some parts of the UK, some drivers are left scratching their heads, wondering if they should also make the switch.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of winter tyres so that you can make the best possible decision this winter.
What Are Winter Tyres?
There are two main differences between winter tyres and normal tyres.
First, winter tyres are designed to have better traction and grip in cold conditions. In terms of their appearance, this means that winter tyres will have a more distinct tread pattern, with wider grooves and more narrow slits at the edges of the tread area. If you’re struggling to identify a winter tyre, look for a snowflake or mountain symbol by the sidewall.
Second, winter tyres are made with a different kind of rubber than standard tyres. Why? Because the material on standard tyres stiffens as temperatures drop, reducing grip when it’s below seven degrees. The material used for winter tyres stays soft, enabling a strong grip despite freezing temperatures.
The Pros of Winter Tyres
The most noteable (and obvious) pro of having winter tyres is that they outperform standard tyres when temperatures drop and road conditions worsen. You’ll notice a difference, especially when braking or turning, thanks to the improved grip and traction.
Stopping distances can be reduced by upwards of 5 metres with winter tyres which supports safer driving for you and everyone else on the road. With that being said, by fitting winter tyres, you’re helping prevent accidents and are upholding your duty of care as a motorist.
If you live in a part of the country that experiences harsh winters, winter tyres won’t just prevent accidents, they’ll enable you to get where you’re going. Imagine being stuck – unable to get to work or take your children to school – because your tyres couldn’t perform.
The Cons of Winter Tyres
While the benefits in terms of safety and mobility are undeniable, there are a few drawbacks of winter tyres.
The most frequently cited con is, of course, the cost. On average, they’re slightly more expensive than standard tyres, but this is dependent on your car and wheel size. It’s also worth mentioning here that this cost could be offset by the fact that winter tyres increase the lifespan of your standard tyres, as they’ll be taken off the road from December-March.
If you don’t mind the cost or see the value in winter tyres, the next obstacle to overcome is storage. Without a garage or garden shed, you’ll likely have to pay for storage 12 months a year, alternating tyres depending on the weather.
Finally, winter tyres are – as the name suggests – season specific. If you were to keep the tyres on year-round, the rubber will wear down quickly and performance will drop off, making them no better than standard tyres when you need them most.
Should I Buy Winter Tyres?
It really is a personal choice. For those living in rural or remote areas or those in areas with especially harsh winters, winter tyres are a must. For everyone else, there are alternatives like snow socks and snow chains that might meet your needs at a lower cost.
In any case, make sure you stay safe this winter! Check out our top winter car maintenance tips here.
Even after taking all these tips into consideration however, you never know when you might unexpectedly break down, and that’s the last thing you want on a cold winters day! See how Warranty Direct can help you by getting a quote today!
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8 top fuel tips which could save you £360 a year
Warranty Direct research shows how you can drive more economically and save money on fuel
Over the past seven months petrol has increased by 10% and diesel 11% with current prices some of the highest we’ve seen since the summer of 2014.
In a recent Warranty Direct study we found the UK is in the top 15% for highest global fuel costs, with rates averaging at £1.71 per litre.
With these latest statistics in mind, Warranty Direct has put together the best ways to increase fuel economy to save yourself a whopping £360 a year.
|Problem||Solution||Money saved per year|
|Varying speed increasing fuel use by 20%||Consistent cruise||£67.79|
|Speeding can increase fuel use by 25%||Stick to speed limits||£27.87|
|Not paying attention to fuel consumption displays can increase fuel use by 15%||Being more vigilant with checks and knowing the correct sums to work out fuel economy||£78.22|
|Using gears incorrectly can add 15% to your fuel bill||Tailoring your gears to your speed||£78.22|
|Under-inflated tyres can increase fuel consumption by 3%||Regularly checking and filling your tyres with air||£15.64|
|Roof racks can affect fuel consumption by 10%||Remove whenever not using||£52.15|
|Keeping air con running too much can affect fuel consumption by up to 10%||Try not to use air con while driving at motorway speeds or in stop and start traffic
|“Warming up” your vehicle during colder winter months||Invest in some decent de-icer and try to drive off straight away (as long as it’s safe).||£10|
Top tip #1 Consistent cruise
Tests have shown varying your speed up and down between 75 and 85 miles per hour can increase your fuel use by 20%
Major roads make up 65% of total road traffic in Great Britain and if you factor in the average mileage a year, (5,104 miles) you could sa ve around £67.79 each year, by adapting your driving style.
As you get to know your vehicle, you’ll be able to tell what certain speeds feel and sound like without having to look at the speedometer too much, and you’ll adjust your foot on the pedal more naturally.
But especially when you’re first learning (and don’t have cruise control) you’ll need to glance at the dashboard every so often, to make sure you’re not speeding up or slowing down.
Top tip #2 Stick to the speed limits
Speed limits are maximum, not recommended speeds. You should constantly assess how fast is safe while you are driving and make adjustments accordingly.
Try staying in the lower gears for longer before changing up. This cuts down on your potential to speed and won’t harm your car’s gearbox, transmission or engine.
Top tip #3 Check your fuel consumption
Many drivers consume 15% less fuel by acting on the feedback that fuel consumption displays provide. It might seem pretty minor, but being more diligent could save you a whopping £78.22 a year.
To keep on top of this, you need to know the equation for fuel consumption is “miles driven divided by amount of petrol used.” If you know the distance you drove and how many litres fill your tank, you can simply divide the miles by the fuel.
You can do this every time you fill your tank if you want to create a long-term record of your fuel usage.
Top tip #4 Drive in the correct gear
To get the best out of your engine when driving in different road, traffic and weather conditions, you need to be able to change to the most appropriate gear at the right time.
The best way to determine when to change gears in a manual car is to listen to the sound of the engine. The more you practice, the more familiar with it you’ll become.
When it sounds like it’s starting to work too hard or it’s starting to make a loud roaring sound, it’s time to change up gear. If the engine is starting to struggle and is making a lower sound after you’ve slowed down, then you need to change down gear.
Correct use of gears can make huge savings on your fuel bill of up to 15%, again around £78.22 per year.
Top tip #5 Check your tyres
Tyre manufacturers and road safety organisations recommend drivers perform checks of vehicle tyres at least once a month.
The vehicle handbook, or user manual, will detail the correct air pressures to be used in your car’s size tyres.
Remember, if you are driving the car with a full complement of luggage and people, or intend to carry or tow heavy loads, tyres will need to be inflated to a higher air pressure than they would during normal driving conditions.
Top tip #6 Streamline
A roof rack, even unused, adds wind resistance to a car, increasing drag and making the engine work harder. It can also affect fuel consumption by up to 10%. So, try not to leave your roof rack on your car all year round and only use when necessary to save yourself up to £52.15 per year.
Top tip #7 Turn off air con at lower speeds
At motorway speeds, air con can affect fuel consumption by up to 4% and up to 10% in stop and start traffic. So, leaving your air con on all the time could cost you around £30.11 each year.
Top tip #8 Don’t ‘warm up’ the engine
When starting on those cold mornings, don’t leave your car running to warm it up. It causes unnecessary engine wear, as well as wasting fuel. Instead invest in some decent de-icer and try to drive off straight away – so long as you can see where you are going!
Leaving your car running will cost between a minimum of £10-15 each year.
Simon Ackers, CEO, Warranty Direct commented on the latest findings:
“At a time when fuel prices are rising and Christmas is fast approaching, we think it’s important to make motorists aware of some of the best ways to drive more economically and save money.
“Our tips show there are lots of ways to reduce fuel consumption, both by using new technology and by modifying everyday driving habits.
“If eco-driving becomes the norm, it has potential to drastically decrease emissions, boost road safety and mean less wear and tear on your vehicle.”
From bona fide classics to Christmas-inspired picks, Warranty Direct has put together its definitive list of must-watch car movies to enjoy during the festive frenzy.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
We thought we’d start our list with an oldie but a goodie. Based on Ian Fleming’s classic, this musical fantasy film is about an eccentric inventor who transforms a broken-down Grand Prix car into a fancy vehicle for his children. They all then go off on a magical adventure to save their grandfather in a faraway land.
It’s far from gritty realism, but this majestic movie is a must-watch for all the family. After all, who doesn’t wish they could own a flying car?
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
For our second pick, we’ve gone for a modern classic. Though this film spawned countless sequels, we still think the original is the best.
Starring Vin Diesel and the late Paul Walker, this first outing of the franchise is all about a police officer whose loyalties are put to the test when he becomes involved in the street racing world.
Plot aside, this high-intensity action film boasts thrilling racing scenes that will leave you on the edge of your seat this Christmas.
The Italian Job (1969)
This British action comedy starring Michael Caine features iconic appearances from a Lamborghini Miura and a Mini Cooper, in the hope of bringing Torino to a standstill, only to steal the Gold and escape.
Aside from being one of the most quotable movies ever, this film is a feast for the eyes for any motoring enthusiast and the perfect way to get your heart racing over the lull between Christmas and New Year.
Christmas Vacation (1989)
For the fourth spot on our list, we’ve gone for full-blown ‘80s nostalgia.
This Christmas-themed family comedy follows the Griswold family as they head out in their trusty wood-panelled wagon to pick up a Christmas tree. However, their plans for a perfect family Christmas are scuppered by plenty of comedic hi-jinks along the way.
Starring Chevy Chase and a young Johnny Galecki (perhaps better known as The Big Bang Theory’s Leonard Hofstadter), this is the ideal, feel-good Christmas movie to put on after Christmas dinner.
Looking for a film that’s a little different? Why not watch this a modern-day indie classic?
Starring Ryan Gosling as a brooding stuntman and mechanic who moonlights as a getaway driver, this crime flick is an intense ride that features plenty of dizzying car chases along the way.
Of course, in the real world, when you’re looking for quality vehicle repairs, you’re unlikely to be met by a Hollywood star.
However, if great quality workmanship is what you’re in search of, we have our very own Preferred Repairer Network to guarantee our policy holders the best quality service when an unexpected fault or breakdown occurs.
For our final choice, we’ve gone for this Pixar animated adventure, which is a charming treat for adults and children alike.
The film follows a rookie race car (appropriately named Lightning McQueen), who discovers the true meaning of friendship when he finds himself lost in a run-down town called Radiator Springs.
This film has everything you could want from a family classic – plenty of thrills, touching moments – and classic vehicles to marvel at along the way!
If you’re considering buying a new car, you’ll have to decide whether you want to lease or finance the car. (Of course, it’s also an option to pay in full upfront, but most of us aren’t in a position to!) There’s a lot to consider when deciding between leasing and financing, including the cost of monthly payments, your driving habits (how many miles you expect to drive annually) and how long you anticipate you’ll have the car. But what about insurance costs?
Yes, the way in which you choose to pay for your new car could affect the insurance you pay every year.
The Difference Between a Leased and Financed Car
First things first, let’s identify the main difference between leasing and financing: ownership.
When you lease a car, you’re essentially renting the car for an extended period of time. Each month, you pay to continue renting it and, at the end of your lease period, you return the car to the dealer.
When you finance a car, you make monthly payments to a lender and, after your finance period ends and you’ve paid off the cost of the car and any interest incurred, you own the car free and clear.
Of course, since the terms of the agreements for leasing and financing are considerably different, the cost of each is also different. Leasing tends to be less expensive as your monthly payments essentially only cover the depreciation of the car. That way, when you return the car to the dealer, they haven’t lost any money. This explains why leases often have mileage restrictions; more wear and tear accelerates depreciation.
When financing a car, your monthly payments cover the cost of depreciation and your equity in the car so that after, say, 36 months, the car is yours.
Is it More Expensive to Insure a Leased or Financed Car
Whether you chose to finance your car or take out a lease, a third party has an interest in protecting the vehicle. When financing, that third party is whatever financial institution gave you the loan that you’re paying off each month. When leasing, that third party is the leasing agent or car dealer to whom you’re making a payment to every month.
While, yes, in both cases a third party has an interest in protecting the car, the leasing agent has more to lose if the car is damaged. As such, it’s required that leased cars have fully comprehensive coverage, which could cost more than the third-party insurance that all drivers in the UK are legally required to have.
It’s also important to realise that, when providing details about your vehicle to the insurance company, the registered owner isn’t you, but your finance company.
So, does all of this mean that leased cars are more expensive to insure than financed cars? Not necessarily! There are a handful of factors that can affect your insurance quote including the driver’s age, driving record, convictions, the make, model and year of the vehicle, the value of the vehicle and even where you park your car.
Top Tips for Reducing Insurance Costs
If you’re looking to reduce your insurance costs, switching from a leased car to a financed car shouldn’t be your first step.
Instead, look for a car with a smaller engine that’s worth less money, keep your car garaged, consider having a black box fitted and agree to a mileage cap.