Should you fit Winter Tyres on your New Van?
When buying a new van, most people happily sign up for a 4 year lease but the salesman, keen as mustard to get you to sign the lease on the dotted line, rarely mention extras that could really benefit you – and whilst a fabulous drop-down dvd player is a real talking point in the pub, and perfect if you have children that ride in the back of your brand new Transporter Kombi, there are few add-ons that could be as valuable to your business as winter tyres (even more convenient if they are kept on a spare set of wheels).
The high winds and heavy rain are just the start of what is supposed to be a rough Winter, though we haven’t even seen the cold begin to bite yet. Safe driving is important for everyone, but if you have a van for business purposes (and lets be honest, you don’t generally take out a van on lease to just pop to the corner shop) then keeping your van on the road in all conditions is an absolute priority, you simply can’t afford for you or your staff to be stranded.
The first option to consider is fitting winter tyres to your vehicle, although in practice most van owners find it easier to keep a spare set of winter wheels rather than just winter tyres (as you can easily change them yourself in a matter of minutes). The standard tyres fitted on new vans are designed to perform at temperatures above 7°C, where they will maximise fuel efficiency, speed and grip. Once the temperature drops below 7°C, grip reduces drastically and this affects that crucial braking distance, even if there isn’t snow or ice to consider, once you bring ice, rain or snow into the equation tyre performance is even more affected.
Winter tyres are specially designed to perform better in cold temperatures than standard tyres, Winter tyres are made with a higher natural rubber content, which keeps them softer than summer tyres at low temperatures, allowing them to get a firmer grip on the road. Winter tyres also have more grooves on the surface area than you would expect to find on a summer tyre, again improving grip in the classic British wet, soggy weather as well as being invaluable when the snow hits. In recent tests it was proved that a van with normal tyres can take three times as long to brake to a complete stop on an icy road than the same van fitted with winter tyres. Of course, nobody wants to view it that way, but a winter collision can have a business cost as well as a human one, how much business could you lose from that bump in wet weather while your van is repaired?
It goes without saying that winter tyres handle vastly better than normal ones in the snow – and whilst we don’t get that much snow in the UK, they can be the difference between your van being stuck on the driveway and earning you a living when the temperature drops. To put it in context, with most UK tradesmen charging a minimum of £50 an hour, just one snow day could cost you £400 in lost business, not to mention the knock on effect of letting your competitors service your customers while your van sits there gathering dust – and that’s not much less than the cost of one full set of winter wheels for a VW Transporter – even if it doesn’t snow much where you live, how many snowy days would you bet on over the length of a 4 year lease – one day has paid for the wheels!
Of course, there are alternatives and here are the main ones you can consider:
Here are the most effective:
Snow Socks – These are basically bags that can be easily slipped over your van tyres which improve grip. They won’t be much help on cold, wet roads but for keeping your van moving in snow they compare pretty favourably in tests against the cold winter tyres. Easy to fit and remove and relatively cheap, they do offer a great solution, however we recommend buying in advance as everyone sells out at the first hint of ice!
Snow chains – These are a solution for deeper and more prolonged snow, improving a van’s ability to corner and get going. They will tackle worse weather than a winter tyre and are the common solution in very cold parts of the globe. However, they are far harder to fit and remove than socks and by their very nature, they will make for an uncomfortable ride – for these reasons they are not really used in the UK.
As you would expect, our helpful accessories team at http://www.swissvantek.com have a great selection of drop down dvd players, trims, badges, satnav and music accessories to make your new van look good and we would be more than happy to give your mates something to talk about when you drive your new van to the pub decked out with distinctive sidebars and grille – but we are equally interested in your safety and have some great offers on snow socks and winter tyres to make sure you keep your business moving.