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Snow tyres or No Snow tyres... a salutory lesson ...

 Poster: A snowHead
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Boris wrote:

@ousekjarr, don't disagree with any of your comments, but realistically for most of the UK in any given year there may be 1-day when you really really need winter tyres. This year was an exception! While they are undoubtedly safer in colder temps and wet - we're not crashing off the roads everytime there is a frost.


The first car in a ditch round here is usually sometime in October, and then it can be a couple of days between incidents. In January and February it's sometimes 2-3 per day, and in very cold weather it can be 2-3 per hour. Fen roads are bad enough to start with, with worn-out and uneven surfaces and poor or no de-icing treatment, but if you do go off the side then the options are either down a bank and overturn in a field, or into a water-filled ditch or a drainage channel. They were still being fished out well into April due to overnight frost.

Growing up in Scotland before anyone in the UK had ever heard of winter tyres, snow was a regular hazard and people either left their cars at home or drove very slowly and carefully, but it was still a regular occurence to discover a double-decker bus sliding backwards towards you with the wheels locked.

Every time there is a frost, there are more accidents. The stats are very clear on that, and you have to wonder when the insurance companies will start to give a discount for those who do change to winter tyres - except of course that, like the advent of ABS, in many cases the ability to brake effectively just means that the idiot behind you is more likely to hit you... but at least that is then clearly their fault, so your insurance company wins.
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Have all season/weather tyres muddied the waters slightly?

Mandatory use of winters probably isn't a vote winner.

If we are serious about safety I would say we should encourage the use of winters in the UK.
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@Layne,
Quote:

If we are serious about safety I would say we should encourage the use of winters in the UK.



I'm a big fan of winter tyres, but I'm not sure how far we should go in encouraging winter tyres. The additional cost is not insignificant (in terms of initial outlay, change-over / storage costs) and the benefits are questionable. I'm not saying that the benefits of winter tyres on snow/cold roads are questionable but that a greta many UK drivers very, very seldom have to cope with those conditions. I think this is the first year in 3/4 that we have had any snow. Could that money be better spent on other safety improvements? Maybe encouraging people to change tyres at 2mm tread instead of 1.6mm? Actually, I have just had one thought. We could see whether winter tyres might be made compulsory in certain conditions. e.g. Highways England, the MoT or whomever, decree that the next three days are 'winter tyre days' across the following counties. Too draconian?
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tangowaggon wrote:

In reality a 4wd can get you in a lot more trouble than 2wd
With 2wd you lose traction earlier and take appropriate action such as fitting chains. With 2wd you have 2wd traction and 4wd braking ie you lose traction before losing braking, the ability to go is lost before the ability to stop.

With 4wd, you don't lose traction as soon, so you plough on till you lose traction but you lose braking at the same time, you lose the ability to stop when it's too late.

Losing the ability to go is irritating, losing the ability to stop can be lethal.


Interesting point. Thanks for the warning.
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@foxtrotzulu, this is not about snow. It is about low temperatures, wet conditions, and frost/ice on the road. The performance difference in snow is even more marked, but the improvement at lower temperatures is significant. This may be the first year in your area for 3-4 years that you've had snow, but the average daily temperature has been below 7 degrees for at least 4 months of each year in that time ( http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/~brugge/maidenhead_monthly.html ), and so you would benefit from winter tyres. Plus of course the average is across the whole day, and people tend to travel before 9am and after 5pm when the temperatures are lower.

Changing to winter tyres is not trivial, and few people would wake up, notice it was wintery outside, and change their wheels before leaving for work - so declaring the next 3 days as winter tyre days won't work. For Austria the mandatory period is 1st November to 15th April, but if there is snow, slush or ice outside of these dates they are also mandatory. For the UK, 1st December to 1st April would provide a significant benefit, and the reality is that people leave them on until it is unlikely that there will be a major change in the weather.

Also, don't assume that Berkshire is representative of the rest of the UK - the benefit of winter tyres is clear in the Highlands, obvious in the borders, fairly obvious north of the Wash, and less obvious further south.

A significant improvement would come from enforcing their use on HGVs, buses and emergency vehicles as a start - the fact that fire engines are still charging around on summer tyres to cut someone out of their vehicle which has crashed due to snow is mind-boggling Shocked


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Wed 2-05-18 15:51; edited 1 time in total
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@ousekjarr, I don't think anyone is questioning benefits of winter tyres.

However, your average commuter/motorist in Midlands, South will IMO only really notice the difference when it snows - which it does rarely.
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I bought a set of winter tyres on my old jeep, for use when driving to and from winter hols, because I had kids onboard. I put them on a set of steel rims, had the same tyres for about 3 years, just using them in the winter, so the value was pretty good. And it saved the salt damage to the alloys. Even driving around my local area (north Hampshire) there was a noticable improvement to grip and control. The compound and tread pattern do make a massive difference.
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I had Kleber Quadraxer all season tyres on a previous car (Skoda Octavia). They were a very well rated tyre in the Autobild tests, and were very good in the snow and ice (they were snow-rated with the appropriate symbols).

However, on dry roads (even at single digit-but-not-freezing temps) they were noticeably poorer than summer tyres. I fitted them with the view that accidents happen more in winter on cold/slippery roads, and thus I was ok with the tradeoff, but they were a bigger compromise than I expected.

I've not used all-season or winter tyres subsequently on my own vehicles, albeit when renting in winter I almost always go for them.
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
... I'm a big fan of winter tyres, but I'm not sure how far we should go in encouraging winter tyres. The additional cost is not insignificant... .

I think you're correct.

Presumably insurance companies would offer a premium reduction if using such things actually made a significant difference in England.
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Bob wrote:
Given this is a snow/winter sports forum, I see why we would care about the summer performance of winter tyres.
Germany And austria both have winter tyre legislation. So I guess that there is a legitimate BMW option for drivers Very Happy

Seems to me that using summer tyres in winter particularly in snow/mountains increases the risk to the driver, their passangers, aswell as other road users, just how stupid or cheap can you be???


What is the problem with the UK insurance companies? What is legal on a car is "prescribed" by the car manufacturer - you can even see it on a sticker when opening driver's door. Once speed and load indexes are respected, plus exact tyre dimensions are followed, then you car is compliant with what manufacturer has prescribed. BMW for example even have their specific marking (a star) on pre-approved tyre models - for both winter and summer tyres ...
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@foxtrotzulu, @Boris, I'm not a tyre expert but I believe it's as ousekjarr stated that with the temps and weather we get through a normal UK winter, even in Berkshire and Hampshire they would reduce accidents and injuries by a decent margin - let's say 10%. It's certainly not just about snow. Maybe there needs to be some work in evidencing this in order to make it a focus. It is a cost and it is hassle but a lot of things related to health and safety are.
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@Layne, and I think that is the big question - would there really be a 10% reduction?
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@ousekjarr,
Quote:

@foxtrotzulu, this is not about snow. It is about low temperatures, wet conditions, and frost/ice on the road. The performance difference in snow is even more marked, but the improvement at lower temperatures is significant. This may be the first year in your area for 3-4 years that you've had snow, but the average daily temperature has been below 7 degrees for at least 4 months of each year in that time ( http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/~brugge/maidenhead_monthly.html ), and so you would benefit from winter tyres. Plus of course the average is across the whole day, and people tend to travel before 9am and after 5pm when the temperatures are lower.

Changing to winter tyres is not trivial, and few people would wake up, notice it was wintery outside, and change their wheels before leaving for work - so declaring the next 3 days as winter tyre days won't work. For Austria the mandatory period is 1st November to 15th April, but if there is snow, slush or ice outside of these dates they are also mandatory. For the UK, 1st December to 1st April would provide a significant benefit, and the reality is that people leave them on until it is unlikely that there will be a major change in the weather.

Also, don't assume that Berkshire is representative of the rest of the UK - the benefit of winter tyres is clear in the Highlands, obvious in the borders, fairly obvious north of the Wash, and less obvious further south.

A significant improvement would come from enforcing their use on HGVs, buses and emergency vehicles as a start - the fact that fire engines are still charging around on summer tyres to cut someone out of their vehicle which has crashed due to snow is mind-boggling


It is about snow, as that is when by far the greatest advantage is seen, but I fully agree that it's not just about snow and I do appreciate the benefits in colder weather too. Fair point about the hassle of changing to winters. People would have to make a decision at the beginning of the seas whether to invest in winters and those who didn't would be immobilised or illegal. Not sure that's entirely practical.

I wasn't remotely assuming that Berkshire was representative of the UK and that was my entire point. I'd regard winters as essential if I lived in the Highlands but probably unnecessary if I lived on the coast of Cornwall. It's hard to insist on nationwide adoption of winter tyres.

Fully agree about winter tyres on emergency vehicles and many HGVs. Seems utterly ludicrous if they don't have them.


@Bob,
Quote:

I put them on a set of steel rims, had the same tyres for about 3 years, just using them in the winter, so the value was pretty good. And it saved the salt damage to the alloys. Even driving around my local area (north Hampshire) there was a noticable improvement to grip and control. The compound and tread pattern do make a massive difference.


Your summer tyres will have lasted a bit longer and there will have been less damage to your alloys (not that I've ever noticed this problem on any of my cars) but the overall cost of winters is still significant. You have the initial outlay for tyres and rims and any change-over/ storage costs. Unless you buy exactly the right car next time around then there is a pretty good chance, for most car owners, that you have to replace the steel rims and winters at the end of owenrship and you seldom recoup much on resale. I can't say I've every actually noticed the difference in grip outside of snowy conditions. Maybe I just don't drive aggressively enough to come close to losing grip anyway. (Obviously it becomes more relevant in emergency situations).

None of this means that I'm not a big fan of winters, but I think they are luxury that only some can afford and one that not everyone really needs. (too many negatives in that sentence - sorry!)
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It wasn't long ago that you had to notify insurance companies if you fitted winter tyres and some would even charge an additional premium, presumably on the basis that someone with winter tyres was more likely to drive in higher risk conditions.
THE ABI maintain a list of insurance companies and their attitude to winter tyres, thankfully the list of companies that need to be notified is shrinking but there are still a few. Link to the ABI list here https://www.abi.org.uk/globalassets/files/publications/public/motor/2017/10/abi-guide-to-winter-driving---the-motor-insurance-commitment.pdf
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@foxtrotzulu, Flogged the rims off on ebay when i sold the car, which is where i got them from in the first place. Tyres are a comsumable item, and i don't seem to remember them being massively different in price to the summer ones. But safety in the mountains was the real reason.
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I can't see the need for mandatory winter tyres in the UK. I live in the highlands and have never used them, nor have the majority of people I know (that includes folk living in Aviemore). A handful of my mates use them, but they all have a fairly long commute to work. Can't honestly say I've ever noticed a big increase in accidents during winter either. Maybe we are just more used to driving in snow?
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@Layne,
Quote:

I'm not a tyre expert but I believe it's as ousekjarr stated that with the temps and weather we get through a normal UK winter, even in Berkshire and Hampshire they would reduce accidents and injuries by a decent margin - let's say 10%.


I can't imagine that it's anything like 10%. If we think of the UK population centre then probably less than 10% of journeys are conducted in temps below 7degrees. Of those, how many accidents were a result of loss of grip/control? 10% perhaps. and of those how many would have been avoided by the difference between summer and winter? 20%? That equates to a reduction in the annual accident rate of c. 0.2%

That still amounts to a few lives saved and many fewer injured but, for a country like the UK (or parts of it) the money and effort might be better invested elsewhere. For snow covered parts of the blasted North it might be a very good idea.
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Some Canadian data:
Quote:
After two seasons of enforcement of the new legislation, Québec’s accident data shows the ability of winter tires to improve road safety and decrease accidents. A recent study conducted by the Ministère des Transports du Québec found a 36% reduction in Quebec, and a 44% reduction in Montreal, in persons killed or seriously injured during the winters of 2008/2009 and 2009/2010, when winter tires were mandatory, as compared to the winters of 2003/2004 to 2007/2008, when winter tires were not mandatory.[7] Accordingly, in each of the first two seasons of its enforcement, the new legislation has prevented an average of 574 road accident fatalities

Clearly the UK is not Canada.

Perhaps a more pertinent study is this one on HGV's in Scotland which seems to me to be inconclusive.

I didn't advocate making them mandatory btw I suggested we encouraged their use - with perhaps all public service vehicles leading the way.
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@ousekjarr, ...we also live in the Cambridge fenland and my son and I look at each other when we see the cars off the road in the frost and say to each other either ‘screech donk splash’ (drainage ditch) or ‘screech donk clunk’ (dry ditch). It’s that regular. Winters go on in our household in October. They come off late April. Good for the Alps. 30pc better braking performance sub-10deg in Cambridge.
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@Layne, that's an interesting study. Some observations - it says that the cost of winter tyres is 5-15% higher than summer tyres, but of course that is because they are currently exotic and attract a premium as they are ordered in low volumes and as a special order.

When an HGV accident closes the road, the average time to get it open is 3 hours - but as the paper states, the disruption to traffic can last a lot longer than that, and it takes no account of the impact on other routes which are used as an alternative. Overall, the sensitivity tests show that more research is needed to be sure of which end of the spectrum is closer to the reality, but their break-even range of 6-20 incidents prevented based on changing seasonally when there were 27 incidents in the studied period would suggest that it is worth doing. It also doesn't cost the knock-on effects to the economy and on a personal level the general embuggeration of sitting on a closed road where the snow plough can't get through because of the HGV parked sideways across it.

Add in the cost of any casualties and deaths caused by these incidents (which the study makes no attempt to do) and the overall benefit becomes very clear.

In this last winter, a serious suggestion of banning all HGVs from the road until the weather changed was considered - and perhaps should have been implemented. After all, given the weather, who really needed 35 tons of bricks to be delivered to a closed building site that day?
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@ousekjarr, ummm, I would humbly submit that I know when to drive appropriately.

@Idris, haha thanks. The road in question has become very noticeably much busier since we bought 12 years ago. I presume because of increased density above us.

Hadn’t known there had been call for restrictions but I’d welcome them! At least making it one way as various sections are single lane.

Was a bit amusing when we had ground works done and the road was blocked by GRDF. Who had all necessary paperwork and approvals to close one lane, but which completely blocked the road...it being one lane wide.

Residents only or one way, ridiculous otherwise.
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I cant see any UK Government regulating in favour of winter tyres, despite the technical advantages. Public sector vehicles, buses and certainly emergency vehicles, should fit them though. Some organisations already do but it seems to be hit and miss. Unless all HGVs fit winter tyres you can guarantee that the road ahead will be blocked by the one that chooses not to.

No doubt we will continue to take the path of least regulation, as we normally do and accept that there will be days when our infrastructure grinds to a halt. That is annoying eg. every 3 or 4 years when flights are cancelled and the A66 is closed for 5 days (!).....but the strategy is that things will soon get better and it is a lot cheaper to just put up with the short term hassle than plan for more resilience.

Perhaps if the long-fetch-easterly becomes a regular part of our weather again, then the winter tyres debate may hot up. Before winter tyres we had studded tyres. Anyone remember them ?
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Peter S wrote:


Perhaps if the long-fetch-easterly becomes a regular part of our weather again, then the winter tyres debate may hot up. Before winter tyres we had studded tyres. Anyone remember them ?


Feck the road surfaces even in the softy sarff are FUBARed as it is with a small dose of freeze thaw, slush n rain. There would be nothing left if everyone was tearing them up with studs
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Peter S wrote:
... Before winter tyres we had studded tyres. Anyone remember them ?

They still have them in Finland.
I'm surprised our experts here don't want to make them compulsory on the south coast, in order to increase our insurance premiums and road maintenance costs.


The difference in tyre performance in different conditions is pretty obvious. I too live in the Fens, but I've no desire to drive into ditches or to buy a car which can take winter wheels.
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Peter S wrote:
Before winter tyres we had studded tyres. Anyone remember them ?

I use them every winter in Austria, saves having chains on for 3 or 4 weeks at a time. It is considerably better than chains when melting snow has frozen overnight leaving the road to the village (17%) a river of ice.
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Many years ago I was driving a very well laden Saab 900 up the hill to Val D' in very snowy conditions. I told my [then] partner it was time to stop and put the chains on but he told me to just keep going (in no uncertain terms) until I reached a moment when the car simply wouldnt go on. He told me I was useless [at driving] as we and the kids in the back got out to take the bags out of the boot to get at the chains (by now essential if we are going anywhere). Having opened the hatch and got a couple of items out the car started to slide backwards towards us, very slowly but moving nevertheless. We quickly place a ski boot bag behind the nearside wheel and turned the steering wheel so the car would slip back against the snow bank where it duly came to rest while we put the chains on the fronts. No damage sustained - could have been so much worse. Since then I have never underestimated road conditions.
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@FFIRMIN, I had a similar thing pre spikes, left car running as it was cold and opened tailgate to get chains. When the tailgate reahched the top of the stroke on the gas struts the momentum was enough to lift the weight off the wheels and the car started to slide backwards!
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I wrote a Guide to Winter Wheels and Tyres for BMW 2 Series Owners that tries to take a balanced approach to the issues, which is at http://www.babybmw.net/howtos/Winter%20Wheels%20Guide%202%20Series%20v3.pdf if anyone is interested. What people have found useful is the chart at the beginning:



which tries to reflect how different tyre types overlap in terms of optimum suitability, and thus the decision of what tyre to go for, whether you need chains etc. is very dependent on your circumstances and how likely you are to come across particular road conditions.

For me, I'd say that it is a difficult decision whether to bother with winter tyres if you only drive in the South of England, and/or if you can leave your car in the garage in adverse conditions. But once you take it to the Alps for skiing, even if only once a year, then that pretty much swings it in favour of getting them.
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@FFIRMIN,
I know the feelin. A couple of years ago we ran out of oomph going up a gradually increasing slope on freshly compressed snow in our 24ft motorhome wearing winters. We hadn't actually experience any wheelspin but I think the anti wheelspin reduced power. Handbrake on, in gear, engine off. I jumped out to put the chains on and as I walked around the front the van just broke away. I exclaimed to my wife who was in the driving seat "WTF did you do?" She exclaimed back "I didn't do a f'in thing!".

Well I couldn't keep up with the motorhome as it slid about 30m back down the road. Luckily it came gently to rest at the edge of the road with no damage.

Lessons learned, even with winters don't push it and put chains on sooner AND put a chock behind the wheel if appropriate.
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We all know that winters are superior in cold conditions (-7 or below). How many SnowHeads are still running winters now the temperature in North of 20 degrees? [Sorry, that was a figure of speech. I meant temperature, not latitude!]
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Mine came off a week ago, and will go back on around October-November
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Steilhang wrote:
Quote:
anyone entering the mountains on summer tires at any time of year is an idiot IMHO... 

Pretty much nails it.


Umm.... I have spent several weeks motorcycle touring in the Alps. Two wheels, no snow tyres..... Just saying....
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
We all know that winters are superior in cold conditions (-7 or below). How many SnowHeads are still running winters now the temperature in North of 20 degrees? [Sorry, that was a figure of speech. I meant temperature, not latitude!]


It is not -7 C but 7C!
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@foxtrotzulu, note in diary to call garage Monday.

We have often found ourselves driving in fresh snow in late April.

And overnight it was sub 7C last weekend
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@Lockkeeper, hmmm...it a lottery on two wheels in the winter....or Russian Roulette....Thierry in our village in CH...very experienced rider...four years ago, came out of his driveway, and BANG...down on the tarmac at 15kph...shattered ankle, five operations, never been able to ski again.
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under a new name wrote:
@foxtrotzulu, note in diary to call garage Monday.

We have often found ourselves driving in fresh snow in late April.

And overnight it was sub 7C last weekend


I normally leave mine on 'til after 'Eisheiligen' ~10th of May, where it often seems to snow to the valley, but not this year by the look of it!).
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@valais2, In winter I would agree and I wouldn't think of using my bike then. I was reacting to Idris comments:
"anyone entering the mountains on summer tires at any time of year is an idiot IMHO... " which is a sweeping statement and I was looking to put it in a bit of perspective.
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Perhaps if winter tyres became more widespread here someone enterprising would start a business storing sets of tyres for those of us without the space to do it ourselves?

I have found it costs me £60 to get my tyres changed over and stored, so £120 per annum. I can’t seem to find a set of wheels for a Mazda CX5 cheap enough to make it worth having the winter tyres permanently mounted so I just swap wheels. Does anyone here know where I can get some? I have tried Googling 2ndhand wheels, fleabay & Amazon & it looks like it would set me back a lot more than it will cost me to continue with my current arrangement over the expected lifetime of the car.
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@foxtrotzulu, not -7C, ... +7C ... or below.

Which makes them useful much of the time in Northern U.K.

If it was below -7 they wouldn’t be much use much of winter in the Alps!
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@Gordyjh, I bought winter tyres from mytyres.co.uk which is actually a UK front end for Delti, based in Germany. They can sell you a full set prefitted on steel rims for about £20 extra, and the whole lot turns up by post ready for self-fit or to be taken to your local fitter.

My only problem is the car has tyre pressure sensors, so I had to pay £80 for a second set for the winter wheels, and each time they are swapped the car has to reprogrammed. By combining this with a service in October and a brake check in April, the local dealer does it free Happy
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