Water on the road can become a serious concern for car owners. Not many of them know that their tyres lose grip on the road in wet weather, but the situation can get even worse if tyres are at least a little bit worn. Actually, some statistics show that a tyre loses grip at the same rate as it loses its tread. Reliable grip and control over a vehicle are especially important in winter when roads are not only wet but also cold. We’ll try to find out what compromises grip in wet weather and why winter tyres are best for winter driving.
When water gets in between the tyre and the road, it works as a cushion making it impossible for the tyre to grip on the road. This condition is called aquaplaning: wheels stop turning, and the car simply planes on water. Although the complete loss of control over the vehicle due to aquaplaning is rare, a reduced grip is what happens all the time when there is water on the road. Of course, the extent to which the grip is reduced depends on many factors such as the road surface, compound, tyre construction, tread pattern and its depth, the weight the vehicle carries, speed and, logically, the amount of water on the pavement. There is a rule saying that at low speeds, it is the road condition that defines the decrease in grip while at higher speeds, the tyre’s tread condition is a decisive factor.
It is important to understand that tyre wear affects not only the grip but also the whole performance of your vehicle. It is because tyres transmit forces developed by the vehicle to the road, and if the grip is compromised, effective transmission is impossible. This massively worsens efficiency of the ABS, cornering, accelerating, and stability.
Why winter tyres?
Extremely cold weather is an ordeal for all components of a car and especially tyres because tyres are the primary safety factor in your car. The tyre’s ability to grip on the road depends on its compound and a tread pattern. And here a huge difference between winter tyres and all other seasonal rubber lies. Winter tyres are developed with snow and ice in mind and manufactured out of a special compound that doesn’t harden at extremely low temperatures (unlike summer tyres). Deeper grooves between tread blocks help evacuate water and prevent aquaplaning while tiny sipes on the tread blocks enable tread blocks to stay flexible and provide the necessary level of grip. Many drivers have already decided to use winter tyres (even in countries with relatively mild winters like the UK) because they value their safety and mobility even in the most inclement weather.