Sunday, December 04, 2011

Getting Wintertyres in UK

The last two years, winter here in UK had been abnormally "harsh". For several weeks, snow blankets covered large parts of the country, and much of the traffic was at a standstill or only moved slowly. So how will it be this winter? Could this be a part of the general climate change, or were these winters just freak random events, which will be compensated by this years record-warm winter?

The press had made wild predictions about another snowy winter, but they have really no clue - weather cannot be predicted for a longer period than 3 days, and in recent weeks I have even got my doubts about the ability of weather forecasters for this short period. Nobody knows. But this year, I am actually less worried. Why? This year I got winter tyres on my car.

These past winters I just had the same summer tyres on my vehicle for the whole year. And yes, the car did slide all over the place on those un-cleaned side roads with their snow-covered ice. Nobody here in the UK drives with winter tyres: there is usually no necessity to put on winter tyres for those two days of some wet snow drizzle. But the last two winters have shown that winter in UK can also be different. When I lived in Germany, we did have lots of snow in winter, and I always had put on winter tyres because they really provided better traction, cornering, and stopping. Now since recently, it is actually compulsory in Germany to put on winter tyres. These tyres in general really work already better in any condition from below 7 deg C, so this should be fine on many days in the UK winter too.

Since October, there has been some awareness campaign by tyre retailers to convince customers to buy winter tyres. The only problem is: there are almost no winter tyres available anywhere. I did check the major tyrer retailers, and they do have either no winter tyres at all, of maybe one single noname brand of which I never have heard from before. Even doing an online search did show that most tyre dealers did not sell any winter tyres. But then I found one online retailer: They have all possible tyre manufacturers, from cheap tyres at around £ 40 up to £ 90 per tyre. In my opinion, the tyres from Dunlop, Goodyear, Continental, Michelin are the best (as tested by the ADAC). But for myself, I opted for a lower-cost tyre, which including fitting cost £ 60 per tyre: Debica Frigo 2 (made in Poland). Should be good enough for my cheap vehicle. The test results on TyreTest (actually submitted by owners of the tyres) appear to be much more lenient than the ones by the ADAC, but at least the Debica did fare better than some of the other low-cost tyres.

Quite interesting, how the URL of the Tyretest page has the German word "pkw_winterreifen" in it... and the German connection goes even further: Turns out that the company is part of the German company Delticom AG. The tyres, after I ordered them online, would have been sent to my home in Leeds directly from their supply depot in Germany! But instead I chose them to be delivered to one of their recommended fitters here in Leeds. Shipping is for free, and the fitting added about £ 15 per tyre for fitting, so the total price including the fitting came to £ 60 per tyre. Yesterday on Saturday, I did the fitting, and now I am ready for any snow storm here in Leeds! The weather report for Monday already predicts some chance of snow flurries - I am prepared, and I am looking forward to the strongest longest winter ever!

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