According to Touring Club Suisse (TCS), the Swiss motorists association, more many motorists in the country still have to change their summer car tyres to winter ones. This is meant to happen at the beginning of October. According to Auto Suisse, as a general rule of thumb the period for running winter tyres is from October until Easter. Because Easter moves and the weather is unpredictable this is only a rough guide. Below 7 degrees Celsius winter tyres are recommended. Safety is the key reason for changing tyres – it takes twice as long to brake in snow when using summer tyres.
TCS has tested winter tyres for 2015 and presents the results here (in French).
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But there are other advantages to using winter tyres (besides avoiding a fine). Driving in summer tyres up even the mildest snow covered incline can be a positive embarrassment and if your hi-revving efforts fail and you are forced to abandon your vehicle then get out your credit card to pay the tow company, the police for blocking the road, and the garage for changing your tyres in a rush.
But the consequences can be much worse warns the TCS. If you are involved in an accident during the winter while driving with summer tyres you can be held liable in full or in part for the accident and the damage caused. Your insurance company can and probably will reduce its pay-out. And then to top it all, the police can fine or even charge you with gross negligence.
TCS advises that the most effective winter tyres should have a tread of 4 mm (the legal requirement is 1.6 mm). This is sound advice, since the tread can wear quickly, so buying a deeper tread will mean they last longer. Garages often will only change tyres in pairs so that means buying two at a time when replacing them – another reason to avoid the false economy of lighter treads. The other bug bear of having to use winter tyres is storing them. Thankfully for people without plenty of storage space, most garages will store their customers’ tyres for them. Lastly, it is tempting to drive on winter tyres all year round, however this becomes really expensive as fuel consumption increases and the tyres wear out much quicker than summer tyres.