December 2013 Issue of 4×4 Magazine
Given the great summer we have had this year, it’s a bit incongruous to have to produce an issue relating to winter preparation. It’s a bit like seeing the ‘book your Christmas lunch now’ signs outside pubs in late summer, but then my local newsagent already has a selection of Christmas cards on display and, whatever we might feel, winter is on its way. This can mean bad weather, and it will certainly mean that you’ll feel comfortable about your decision to drive a 4×4. Of course, owning a 4×4 doesn’t make you invincible. Even you cannot disprove the laws of physics. When the temperature drops, roads can get slippery and certainly, those summer tyres fitted to your 4×4 won’t work as well as they have done; grip and traction will drop, braking distances can increase alarmingly.
Now we bang on about winter tyres a lot in this magazine, yet it’s possible that for some owners, we are wasting our time. Last winter wasn’t that ‘bad’, why should I bother with the extra expense and inconvenience of changing my wheels and tyres? From our research, that seems to be what a lot of owners tell their local garages when the idea of having a set of winter tyres is raised. Maybe it doesn’t snow that much where you live – why should you bother?
The point is that winter tyres are not snow tyres. They are tyres that work when the temperature drops below 7degC, which, during the morning and evening rush hour, averages out to be for six months of the year in the UK. So if you commute, then on average, half the time you are driving, your summer tyre shod 4×4 will be underperforming. Every day. Then when the white stuff falls or the roads freeze, that underperformance will increase dramatically. It’s not until you have driven on winter tyres on a cold, wet day in December or January, do you fully understand just how superior proper winter tyres are over standard rubber. Increased costs? Not if you think about it. Taking summer tyres off a vehicle means you are ‘saving’ them so they won’t need replacing so quickly. A set of winter tyres will last you two, maybe even three winters. But then I guess it depends on what value you put on yours and your family’s safety when driving in the winter months. Will there be an increase in winter tyres this year? Unless we get hit with a big snow storm in November or December, that’s unlikely. It’s a similar situation to people buying security alarm systems after they’ve been burgled. Horse, stable door, bolted – rearrange in a suitable order. Here at 4×4 Magazine, we are looking forward to taking up the offer from Suzuki to swap our Grand Vitara long termer’s smart alloy wheels to put on some steelies shod in Hankook winter tyres. Then the winter can do its worse – or, more to the point, the winter can just be a normal cold and wet and we can be confident that we have equipped our 4×4 to match the conditions as best we can. See you on the ice. Enjoy the issue.
Nigel Fryatt, Editor
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