Manufacturers offer winter tyres to tackle snowFord and Toyota launch new winter rubber trials

01 December 2010

Cars covered in snow

Are you struggling to cope with the snow?

With snow covering much of the UK in the past few days, both Ford and Toyota are now offering new winter tyre deals to help motorists cope with the difficult driving conditions.

A few years ago, winter tyres weren’t on the agenda for UK drivers. However, following the spate of snow-ridden highways in the last few winter seasons, winter tyres are now growing in popularity in the UK. And Ford and Toyota have joined the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo to offer winter tyre services.

Follow our guides to buying new tyres

Ford offer Pirelli winter tyres

Ford is the latest manufacturer to announce a deal on winter tyres.

The main difference between winter tyres and conventional tyres is the compound and tread design.

The rubber used in winter tyres is designed to work specifically below temperatures of seven degrees. The compound itself won’t harden when the temperature drops, reducing the risk of aquaplaning and improving braking distance. A squarer shoulder profile with defined shoulder-blocks helps the tyre pull through tough terrain like thick mud and snow. And the addition of sipes (tiny zigzag-shaped slits in the rubber) give the tyre extra 'edges' to grip, even on the most slippery surfaces like wet grass or ice.

Ford has linked up with tyre manufacturer Pirelli to offer customers the opportunity to have winter tyres fitted to their car. And anyone who buys four Pirelli winter tyres between now and December 31 2010 will be able to register their details and receive a 50% refund on their purchase price if there are less than 30 days between 1 January and 28 February 2011 with an average daily temperature below seven degrees.

That would mean £277.50 back on the £555 cost of four new Pirelli winter tyres. If you are considering having winter tyres, Which? advises to have them fitted to a set of steel rims (which will cost extra) - it's better not to use winter tyres all year round, so you'll want to swap them back when the weather improves and you'll need to find storage for whichever wheels and tyres are not in use at any time.

Read our tips for winter driving

Winter tyre

Ford and Toyota have winter tyre schemes

Toyota has a winter tyre trial, too

Toyota has also jumped on the winter tyre bandwagon with a new pilot scheme for owners of popular models like the Auris, Avensis and Corolla.

Toyota’s trial is an advice and assistance service rather than deals on the tyres themselves, but it is a new scheme for the manufacturer and gives owners the chance to find out more information about the potential benefits of winter tyres.

But despite the growing number of winter tyres becoming available through manufacturers and tyre specialists, Which? still doesn’t recommend paying the price for replacement tyres for the short periods of extreme winter conditions in the UK.

“Winter tyres account for less than 2% of the market because there’s no general need for them in the UK, unless you live in the remotest parts of the country,” says David Evans, senior researcher for motoring at Which?.

“They work well in extreme weather conditions, which most parts of the UK only see about once every thirty years – and then not usually for a prolonged period. So the investment (in a spare set of wheels and tyres) can’t usually be justified.”

Make sure you're prepared for the snow with our guide

4x4 on a snow covered road

4x4 sales are up to cope with the snow

4x4 sales are on the rise due to the snow

The winter conditions are reportedly having an even wider affect on consumer buying, with interest growing in the 4x4 market, according to BCA car auctions.

A higher ground clearance and four-wheel-drive means a 4x4 is the ideal vehicle for use in difficult conditions.

Tim Naylor from BCA said: “As the temperature drops, we have seen 4x4 values rise quite sharply.

“Values for some models climbed by around 5% in November, compared to similar vehicles bought in the previous month.”

Find out which 4x4 is best for you with our reviews