Winter tyres are designed specifically to remain supple in colder temperatures and maximise traction when driving on snow and ice. Winter tyres offer greater traction, grip and braking performance than summer tyres in temperatures below 7°C. Provided the temperature is low enough, their special tread patterns mean they will perform better in the wet, as well as on snow and ice.
The key to their improved grip on wet and ice-covered surfaces is the ‘sipes’, which provide hundreds of small extra edges to grip the road as the tyre rotates. The sipes help not only because of their edges, but also because they enable localised movement of the rubber as the soft compound clings to the road. Winter tyres are also designed to gather a snowy ‘in-fill’ in the tread grooves and in the sipes to help with grip on packed snow. Nothing grips snow better than snow itself, and winter tyres exploit this by gathering and holding as much of it as possible.