Driving in winter conditions

Tips for driving in the winter

As this colder and potentially dangerous winters descend on us, drivers will be aware that there are certain measures needed to keep cars in top condition.

With snow, rain and ice creating harmful driving conditions on Britain’s roads, many wonder about switching from a summer to a winter tyre. However, there are no rims on the market specifically designed for winter use only.

Of course, this brings up the next question – should you use steel or aluminium rims during this time of year? Let’s take a look.

Steel v aluminium

While there’s a view that steel rims may be the best solution when it comes to the winter months, this isn’t always the case.

Both steel and aluminium wheels come with their pros and cons. However, when it comes to steel ones there is a high risk of rust. This is due to the hubcap causing scratches whenever it’s removed and put back on. This can cause a base area for corrosion, and during the winter this danger is enhanced as small stones can get stuck between the rims and hubcap, creating more scratches.

Steel rims are also more susceptible to corrosion when compared to aluminium rims, as they have fewer layers of lacquer, resulting in less protection.

Aluminium rims, on the other hand, are more protected and resistant to corrosion. This is because the rim is painted with an anti-corrosive undercoat before being painted it its target colour, before finally being covered with a layer of colourless.

But, without proper alloy wheel care in the winter, they can become damaged. During these months heavy dirt can remain for a long time, scratching the surface of the rim. This can then damage the protective layer and result in corrosion.

By cleaning and waxing your wheels on a regular basis, you should be able to fight these issues. Also, with snow and ice, roads are more likely to be covered in grit and salt, which can result in cosmetic damage to alloy wheels. This is one of the many reasons you should ensure you reduce your speed in these conditions.

Even though they’re more robust when it comes to corrosion, they are susceptible to mechanical damage during the winter months. Like the cosmetic damage that can occur, due to the roads being wetter and icier, this can result in skidding and damaging the wheel on a kerb.

As they aren’t as strong as steel rims, this damage could be unrepairable or very costly to fix.

As mentioned above, there’s no such thing as a winter rim, but if you come across one labelling itself as such, it’s probably an aluminium rim with a design – such as five spokes.

Stay clear of these during the winter as they are much harder to clean, instead opt for simple alloy wheels. Meanwhile, alloy wheels featuring polished edges should also be avoided during this time of year as the can be more susceptible to winter conditions.

Other solutions

Of course, with positives and negatives for both, the most convenient solution would be to opt for two sets of wheels. One for summer and one for winter, which can be expensive.

If you do opt for this, you’ll need to ensure your tyres are balanced before being re-fitted, ensuring they’re still functional after being in storage. However, this is still much cheaper than opting for new tyres.

It’s also important to opt for branded tyres regardless of the time of year you buy them. This is because cheaper ones can often crack, which is more likely to happen during the colder months, posing risks to yourself and others.

But, if buying two sets of tyres is too expensive for you, don’t worry. The majority of UK drivers will be ok with the same ones throughout the year unless you live in a remote area that suffers from heavy snowfall. Those who own sports cars may want to look at alternatives during the winter too, as you’re more likely to have performance tyres designed for fast speeds, which won’t be required during the winter.

If you’d like advice about your tyres or need them checking or fixing during the winter months give us a ring on 01204 859045, or send us a message through our contact form.