Winter Tires Verses Standard Tires in Volvo’s Celebrity Snowdome Showdown
- Volvo Car UK invites Louise Thompson, star of TV’s Made in Chelsea, to demonstrate the effectiveness of winter tires when driving in snow
- Louise swapped Tignes for Tamworth to find a more exclusive way of returning to a snowcapped ski slope summit – a Volvo V40 fitted with winter tires
- Winter tires improve road safety and could reduce the 5,000 accidents caused by treacherous road conditions in 2012
As temperatures plummet and experts predict a harsh winter for the UK, Volvo Car UK invited ‘Made In Chelsea’ star and Volvo V40 driver Louise Thompson to demonstrate the effectiveness of winter tires for driving in snow.
Two identical Volvo V40 D2 hatchbacks – one on standard tires and another on winter tires – were ready to meet Louise at the Tamworth Snowdome, an indoor ski slope, where she attempted to drive each one up the slope to the summit.
The test was later repeated using snow socks – a quick-fix, temporary alternative to a full set of winter tires – to see if they could also improve on the performance of standard tires.
And the results were enough to dispel any remaining doubts about the advantages of fitting winter tires. During the test, Louise struggled to hit the five-meter mark on standard rubber but comfortably cruised past the 100-metre marker and continued on towards the summit as soon as she switched into the car fitted with winter tires.
“I’m amazed that it makes such a difference,” she said. “One of the cars has amazing grip and can get all the way to the top, while the other can barely move, so if you’re going to be driving in the snow, I definitely think it’s important to have winter tires.”
Millions of motorists are expected to find themselves driving in treacherous winter conditions in the coming weeks, and investing in a set of winter wheels and tires could help them avoid being stranded in the snow.
Winter tires are at their most effective when temperatures drop below seven degrees. With the Met Office having recorded average temperatures for winter 2012 of just 3.3 degrees, winter tires could have a huge role to play in reducing accidents and enhancing road safety.
They use a softer rubber compound than standard tires which helps them stay more flexible in cold weather. As a result, they can grip the road surface far more effectively, retaining stability and traction, and boosting driver confidence that the car is able to cope with the conditions.
To put it into numbers, if a car is traveling at just 19mph on ice, winter tires can reduce the average braking distance from 68 meters to 57 meters, while at 30mph on snow the figure falls from 43 meters to 35 meters
A second test saw fabric snow socks fitted over the standard tires in just a couple of minutes. This simple, low-cost upgrade transformed the standard tires’ performance and enabled the V40 to cruise up the slope with relative ease.
Both winter tires and snow socks could help reduce the 5,000 accidents the Department for Transport says were caused by treacherous winter weather in 2012.
Nick Connor, Volvo Car UK managing director said: “We wanted to demonstrate, in the most severe conditions possible, the effectiveness of having winter tires or snow socks fitted to your car. There’s definitely a degree of skepticism out there about how useful they can be, but this test dispels the myths once and for all.
“Winter tires and snow socks are available nationwide from our dealerships and we hope this has given motorists reason to believe they’re a worthwhile investment,” he added.
While winter tires are mandatory in Austria, Switzerland and Germany, fewer than 5% of new tires sold in the UK each year are winter tires.
Snow socks are available at participating authorized Volvo repairers for £55* and a set of four winter wheels and tires start from £600*.