As temperatures plummet, road conditions worsen, so precautions to improve driver safety should always be taken.

Winter tyres can be ideal for just this, and having them is a legal requirement in many European countries, but not yet compulsory in the UK.

So, should you consider making the plunge and getting some winter tyres? Our sister title, the Chronicle Live has put together a conclusive list of everything you need to know about winter tyres.

What are winter tyres?

Winter tyres are designed to improve safety in cold weather. They are designed to perform when the temperature drops below seven degrees Celsius.

Normal summer tyres can harden in cold weather and are more at risk of aquaplaning in wet weather while increasing stopping distances in icy conditions.

Winter tyres are made using a rubber compound which does not harden when the temperature drops below seven degrees Celsius. This can improve grip and reduce stopping distances in the event of an emergency stop.

Winter tyres usually have deeper tread to add extra grip and disperse surface water, making them safer and more effective than summer or all-year-round tyres.

Winter tyres can improve a cars tread on snow and ice
Winter tyres can improve a cars tread on snow and ice

Are winter tyres recommended?

Using winter tyres depends on where you live and how you drive your car. In the winter months temperatures in the UK regularly drop below seven degrees Celsius but rural drivers and people in areas with high snowfall and wet weather will be more likely to need the tyres.

In European countries which experience a high level of snow they are a legal requirement for drivers but they are not a legal requirement in the UK.

If most of your driving is done in the daytime in areas where roads are relatively clear, it may be that you do not need to take on the expense of fitting winter tyres.

Winter tyres perform worse than normal tyres in temperatures over seven degrees Celsius, so it is important to change back when the weather gets warmer.

How much do winter tyres cost?

Winter tyre prices will vary depending on the manufacturer, but anything over £500 is likely for four tyres. You will also have to pay fitting costs and to have your normal tyres stored over the winter months.

Winter tyres can be a hefty upfront cost but you will be saving wear and tear on your summer tyres, extending their use in the summer months.

What are the alternatives to winter tyres?

If you do not feel winter tyres are for you there are some alternatives. For shorter drives winter tyre socks, or snow socks, can be fitted.

Winter snow socks cost from around £50 and can be slid over the wheel to provide extra grip on shorter journeys. These are useful when there is a brief flurry of snow.

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Where do I get winter tyres?

Car makers will usually offer their own official winter tyres and some will even offer to store your summer tyres over the winter months, ready to be fitted back on when the weather gets warmer.

A growing number of online retailers are also offering cheap winter tyres including:

Garages will also offer winter tyre services, but it is always best to shop around to find the best deals.