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Best winter tyres 2018: tyre brands reviewed and UK prices compared

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
IMHO raises more questions than answers ... Hankook is the best for the Alps?


https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/accessories-tyres/93111/winter-tyre-reviews-2018-results-by-category
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Hmm seems a bit dodgy - the Michelin not actually given its true place in the tables because it is an AS
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
All those reviews seem to give different results LOL
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All depends on how they weight the categories. No Ice which I am sure favours the Cross Climate. Hankook does surprisingly well I must say tho.
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And then there these 4 tests which test different size tyres in each of the 4 tests. All designed to confuse.

http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/2018-Auto-Bild-Winter-Tyre-Test.htm
http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/2018-Autobild-UHP-Winter-Tyre-Test.htm
http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/2018-51-Winter-Tyre-Shootout.htm
http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/2018-Auto-Bild-Winter-SUV-4x4-Tyre-Test.htm

and then this one to really confuse comparing all season and winter tyres.

http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/2018-ACE-All-Season-and-Winter-Tyre-Test.htm

The Autoexpress test isn't particularly helpful for me as the tyres tested are not available in the size I need for my car whereas each of the Autobild tests test different size classes. What is clear that one manufacturers tyres are not consistently the top and that there isn't a huge amount of difference between the best in each class.

Ultimately these are useful information on which to base a choice
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In the first set of Auto Bild tests http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/2018-Auto-Bild-Winter-Tyre-Test.htm, it's interesting that the Kleber HP3's appear to outperform the Michelin Alpin 5's on nearly every score, sometimes by a big margin. Kleber is one of Michelin's second level brands and are normally priced much lower. For example 205 55 16 91H Kleber is £56, Michelin is £81 on mytyres. Only thing Michelin seems to win on is fuel consumption and longevity, which might indicate they are too hard for winter tyres ? If you are unlucky and get a puncture, destroy a tyre and any savings in that direction go out of the window. Maybe it's the places I have to visit rolling eyes but I lose at least one tyre a year on the car to a puncture, factor that into the Michelin versus Kleber price and you are talking buying 2.5 more Klebers. Alternatively you can dump them a lot earlier and not take the tread to the minimum.
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My take is that for a score above 80% or so you'll be hard-pushed to pick up the differences. So, yes, these things are useful in sorting out the premium from the second-rate but that's about all. A similar test has caused all sorts of debate on the BMW owners forum because it ended-up rating the Michelin CrossClimate Plus better than winters: which frankly, I simply don't believe (with the caveat of all other things being equal i.e. the Michelin CC+ may be better than some second-rate winters but not a quality winter).

And the sort of car involved is important, I'd say: on an 'ordinary' car the score differences above, say 85, are probably imperceptible. And the all-season vs winter difference the same. But on a performance car the wet road holding and resistance to aquaplaning differences will be amplified, both between different brands of winters and all-season vs winters. That's why I have CrossClimate on my Peugeot 206 runaround, but Pirelli Winter Sottozero S3 on the 330BHP RWD coupé. But even then, I've had winters from Vredestein, Dunlop, Michelin and Pirelli on a sequence of AWD and performance cars and I can't say that I've noticed a huge difference between them, even on snow.


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Sat 27-10-18 11:50; edited 1 time in total
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@skitow, Have never had a puncture in a winter tyre, where are you going with them ? I do make a point of picking out any stones that have got stuck in the sipes whenever I swap between the summer and winter tyres though.
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On the tread depth: I don't recommend taking any tyre to the minimum, winter especially but also summers. Many quality summer tyres are deliberately designed to degrade relatively little (in terms of braking distance) initially, at the cost of disproportionate degradation towards the legal limit. That point being about 3mm for summers and 4mm for winters. Here's an example of test undertaken by RoSPA



and you'll note that for this summer tyre on hot asphalt the inflexion point is actually at 4mm - after which it degrades disproportionately. The logic is that a performance car owner hasn't got a problem with the cost of replacing before the legal minimum - they value keeping the stopping distance as short as possible for as long as possible, even if it means changing the tyres 'early'. Obviously, this is for one specific brand, but it's worth being aware of the effect.

For winters, the manufacturers recommend changing around the 4mm mark. Up to you how long you leave it after that but I'd say this isn't a conspiracy: there's a genuine inflexion at that point in terms of tyre performance.

The spare tyre question is tricky. I had a winter pick up a nail this year and it was unrepairable. I had a spare, which was fortunate. I also have the same size all 'round in winters (compared to wider rears in summer). Winters are usually manufactured in a 'window' early autumn, so that stocks are ready for the autumn change-over, plus some for replacements and new buys in the winter. You can thus find it hard to get hold of an exact same brand and size later in the winter, as stocks may have run down. So you have a difficult decision to make as to whether to buy a spare. We do, and take it with us when we go to the Alps, so that we can just get it swapped if there's aproblem. But conversely, we had winters for at least 10 years before needing a spare.
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Would be better to test the drivers. The numpty factor must surely be the one to concentrate on.

So many other factors like which tyre suits which car etc but overall, as long as they are legal, correct pressures and have plenty of tread (like 5mm+), then it's all down to the driver.
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Winter tyre tests Austrian (ÖAMTC)
https://www.oeamtc.at/tests/reifentest/winterreifentest-2018/

Germany (ADAC)

Small tyres
https://www.adac.de/infotestrat/tests/reifen/winterreifen/2018_winterreifen_175_65_r14.aspx?

Medium size tyres
https://www.adac.de/infotestrat/tests/reifen/winterreifen/2018_winterreifen_205_55_r16.aspx?ComponentId=327012&SourcePageId=31821
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rjs wrote:
@skitow, Have never had a puncture in a winter tyre, where are you going with them ? I do make a point of picking out any stones that have got stuck in the sipes whenever I swap between the summer and winter tyres though.


I have a faint suspicion my car is magnetized, therefore attracting every abandoned screw and nail wherever I go Laughing I do run the same tyres all year round, whether winter or all season tyres.
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LaForet wrote:
My take is that for a score above 80% or so you'll be hard-pushed to pick up the differences. So, yes, these things are useful in sorting out the premium from the second-rate but that's about all. A similar test has caused all sorts of debate on the BMW owners forum because it ended-up rating the Michelin CrossClimate Plus better than winters: which frankly, I simply don't believe (with the caveat of all other things being equal i.e. the Michelin CC+ may be better than some second-rate winters but not a quality winter).

And the sort of car involved is important, I'd say: on an 'ordinary' car the score differences above, say 85, are probably imperceptible. And the all-season vs winter difference the same. But on a performance car the wet road holding and resistance to aquaplaning differences will be amplified, both between different brands of winters and all-season vs winters. That's why I have CrossClimate on my Peugeot 206 runaround, but Pirelli Winter Sottozero S3 on the 330BHP RWD coupé. But even then, I've had winters from Vredestein, Dunlop, Michelin and Pirelli on a sequence of AWD and performance cars and I can't say that I've noticed a huge difference between them, even on snow.


And I guess it only matters on the performance car when you are using it's performance too. I think the difference between the different levels of supposed tyre quality is now much less than it used to be, sure you can still get chinese ling a longs or whatever at the bottom and the likes of Michelin etc at the top but there is a lot of mid range stuff that is very close behind, like Maxxis, Matador etc. At the end of the day Pirelli is part of a chinese company now anyway.
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LaForet wrote:
My take is that for a score above 80% or so you'll be hard-pushed to pick up the differences. So, yes, these things are useful in sorting out the premium from the second-rate but that's about all. A similar test has caused all sorts of debate on the BMW owners forum because it ended-up rating the Michelin CrossClimate Plus better than winters: which frankly, I simply don't believe (with the caveat of all other things being equal i.e. the Michelin CC+ may be better than some second-rate winters but not a quality winter).



The CC was a gamechanger because it was a winter tyre that performed well in the dry and wet and warmer temps. I don't see why tyres of that type aren't ideal for most Brits. Different if you spend all winter in the alps of course.

And yes I think a lot of the tests are dancing on a pinhead. Unless it indicates that a tyre is fundamentally flawed in some respect most premium and mid tier snow tyres will be fine for most non high
performance driving and vastly better than averagely worn average summer tyres.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
The CC was a gamechanger because it was a winter tyre that performed well in the dry and wet and warmer temps.


I thought I'd seen it stated on a few occasions that the Michelin Cross Climate was actually a summer tyre that performed well in winter conditions including snow and ice? Puzzled
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 Poster: A snowHead
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As you do not buy tires only for the year it was tested performance over time like 5 years would be very nice to have. Puzzled

And Michelin Cross Climate plus is NO winter tyre!

The CC only wins on dry road (warm weather?)

Both here: https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/accessories-tyres/92871/winter-tyre-continental-wintercontact-ts-860

Don' want to go down Autobahn curve in heavy rain! Shocked




Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Sat 27-10-18 17:28; edited 4 times in total
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Do cross climate tyres have the snowflake or do you still need to legally carry chains?
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Alastair Pink wrote:
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
The CC was a gamechanger because it was a winter tyre that performed well in the dry and wet and warmer temps.


I thought I'd seen it stated on a few occasions that the Michelin Cross Climate was actually a summer tyre that performed well in winter conditions including snow and ice? Puzzled


Maybe - it's certainly described as summer/ dry biased in some category reviews. For anyone not running 2 sets of wheels I think it makes it almost a no brainer for Brits who definitely want a snow capable tyre for winter road trips ( compared to say negotiating the old day of slush back home).
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Look at the aquaplaning performance - heavy rain and english lanes?
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I had Crossclimate on my old Peugeot Partner, they are rated as an all season tyre that carries the mountain and snowflake meaning its winter rated f. Personally I think they are fantastic, have driven in moderate snow depth in Scotland and in the Alps as well as muddy fields and farm tracks at home.
I had no hesitation putting the load rated version on my T5, Michelin Alpin+, they have done a trip to the Ecrins this year, very heavy snowfall and no problems, and have done circa 15K miles on them. ATS checked the tyre depth last week, fronts were on 8mm and rears were on 9mm, so very good wear characteristics. I think they have circa 11mm when they are new.
North Wales ambulance service has them fitted to their fleet for the past couple of years.

I also used quadtraks in the past, again a brilliant snow/mud tyre that worked well on road, only put the Michelins on because I couldn't get the quadtracs locally anymore.
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I think that it's worth making a distinction between all-seasons (a) all year 'round versus (b) as a winter tyre (with a swap to summers). The Michelin CrossClimates have come to prominence for (a) - and rightfully so: for any non-performance car ,what you give up vs summers in summer and winters in winter is so small that it makes sense. I had winters and summers on our Peugeot 206, then winters all year, and now CrossClimates. With the latter really being a great solution.

What's confusing a lot of discussions, however, is that retailers seem to have started saying to people wanting separate winters that the CrossClimates are better than any available winter. Even the Michelin Alpins - which I don't agree with. The counter is usually "Yes but when it gets warmer in late spring, or initially in autumn, the CrossClimates are better." to which I'd say "No. There's no evidence for this. By the time there is any difference you'll have swapped your winters for summers.". For anyone with a performance car or a heavy SUV it makes no sense to choose all-seasons as your winter tyre, because their 'all-season-ness' is at the cost of poorer winter performance. Another counter is "It hardly snows in the UK anyway." to which I'd say "Snow performance is icing on the winters cake - tread compound, sipes and tread design all bring benefits in typical wet and cool UK conditions, particularly in terms of resistance to aquaplaning."
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You could also view it that "Summers" at V speed rating have a performance which is comprised of an element that is approximately 65% outside UK speed legality.

70mph versus 149mph. That 149mph is a continuous and sustained maximum speed rating for the tire and vehicle combination. MOST people are being sold vehicles with a tire capability that they'll never ever need in speed terms.

To gain that speed rating they need a structure that is predominantly stable at that sustained maximum. This quality is diametrically opposed to the flexibility needed to assist performance at cold temps and conditions. Meaning that the only significant performance increase in cold climate use could be "special" rubber compounds. The tire carcass is no longer contributing to the overall flexibility package in an significant way, particularly at the pressures they now generally specify.

It's faintly ridiculous that the majority of vehicles would be supplied without "all season tires" in most European markets.

It's the "summer" high performance users that should be the ones seeking specialised grip and characteristics IF they wish to make use of their vehicles in that elevated performance window, not the general user that has in some way have to make a choice of "downgrading" performance sectors that they may have very little knowledge of.

The EU should insist the majority are supplied equipped in a suitable condition for the purpose they are being sold for, that is all round, all year usability in a varying climate.
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@ski3, good point for most us driving cars that are highly unlikely to exceed 100mph ( even if we are on an unrestricted autobahn).
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I've got Michelin CC's on two of our cars and about to fit on two others (too many kids!) because summers scary in winter and winters scary on anything but ice. Frankly hats off to anyone who can control a car on wet roads on winters- they're like greased weasel sh!te as far as I could tell!
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@Doccam, ??? What winter tyres were you using?
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Vrad something or other (the ones that everyone raves about) and Hancocks again something or other- tried them after taking the Vrads off again recommended . Had them on disco, golf, and Volvo XC70 variously. I stopped my wife driving the golf because it was so unstable in wet autumnal weather - Smarden Bell road if you know it which is very windy and leafy in particular was terrifying.
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Have some good All season tyres off my VW transporter T6 used them for one season without any issue.

Can get more details when I get back to UK Nov 14th if anyone is interested
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Doccam wrote:
Vrad something or other (the ones that everyone raves about) and Hancocks again something or other- tried them after taking the Vrads off again recommended . Had them on disco, golf, and Volvo XC70 variously. I stopped my wife driving the golf because it was so unstable in wet autumnal weather - Smarden Bell road if you know it which is very windy and leafy in particular was terrifying.


Do you mean vredestein?
Are your winter tyres narrower than your summer tyres or did you just go for the same dimensions? Most cars have narrower winter tyres, this helps esp. in avoiding aquaplaning. It could also be that the winter tyres are old (4+ years) and the rubber has hardened. This happens even if the tyres are sat on the shelf.
My experience has been the reverse of yours (i.e. summers slipping/aquaplaning in late autumn, fine once the winters were on) although one car has narrower winter tyres and the other has a heavier diesel engine on top of them.
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Doccam wrote:
Vrad something or other (the ones that everyone raves about) and Hancocks again something or other- tried them after taking the Vrads off again recommended . Had them on disco, golf, and Volvo XC70 variously. I stopped my wife driving the golf because it was so unstable in wet autumnal weather - Smarden Bell road if you know it which is very windy and leafy in particular was terrifying.


wet leafs leave a kind of slime that is very slipery. Summer tyres would not be better on it, if not worse. It is not a tyre thing then. Surprised you came to this conclussion. Winters usualy have more groves and sipes, better at evacuating water. Tyre condition (age, correct inflation) is also important. This also assumes same 4 tyres on each corner.
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@ski3 A really interesting point re that all-seasons should be the UK standard ex-factory tyre on new cars. They've advanced so much in the last few years that I think most owners and road users would welcome the winter capability, even if it's at the cost of a slight reduction in summer performance and wear.

@Doccam Ummmm …. I'd have to echo that my experience has been the opposite of yours, in terms of Vredestein, Michelin and Pirelli winters.

The point about narrower tyres and wheels is apposite: For performance/SUV models, the manufacturer's recommendation (and often certification) is almost always for narrower wheels and tyres e.g. my 18" x 8" wheels go down to 17" x 7½" and the tyre goes down almost an inch in width from 245mm to 225mm. However, I appreciate that this can all seem to be getting out of hand: bad enough to have to spend all that money on separate winter tyres and the inconvenience of storage, only to be told you really should have another set of alloys too.

The all-seasons vs summers vs summers+winters plus separate wheels argument is hard to decide on a car that's just confined to the UK. But for me, once you take your car to the Alps - as most readers here are likely to do - I think the decision is made for you. Even if it's just once a year, go for summers+winters and then you'll get the benefit of the winters reduced aquaplaning in the UK as well, which is good. But again, I understand, especially for people on things like 3 year leases, this is adding up to a big expenditure.
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Did my first long drive to the Alps last week on newly fitted Michelin Cross Climate+ and must say they did not feel very diferent to then Michelin Pilot summers they replaced. Ride is a bit harsher as they have a higher load rating which I got used to very quickly. I drive average speeds and handling was fine. Driving back on Sat we had snow leaving Chatel and driving over and down the Pas de Morgins and cold rain for the rest of the day up the motorway. Felt assured I had these tyres given the mostly wet and cold conditions. Thumbs up from me. Will be testing them again in February.
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Just replaced Goodyear Ultragrips with CC+ on set of winter wheels, so 195/65-15 instead of 205/55-16, and will be fitting to car this week. Although I spend most of winter in the Swiss alps, accommodation is at 800m in Lauterbrunnen.
I will be very interested to see how they perform. I anticipate quieter and more frugal than GYUG and chuck it around test in an empty car park should be fun.
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We used to drive winter Vredstein and Contis, we then moved to Hankook and Falkens, just as good IMO.
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Same sizes- just changed the tyre on the wheel.
The Vred's were on a disco and were put on just before a trip down to the Alps. Down through France was cold (0-7°C from memory) and wet and it's the only time the car felt unsafe on a motorway. Previously had felt completely planted in same conditions on the factory fits (Pirelli zeros I think?) Same experience on the Volvo and then the golf with full winters-not sure why I persevered! Put CCs on golf early as the (Hancock's I think?) were just too scary and haven't tried anything different since. Just picked up Merc C class as factory fits needed changing with new CCs and in today's wet and miserable weather again felt completely different car (although admittedly old tyres really did need changing!).
Obviously they're not as good as winters in proper snow/ice but loads better than summers, and perform absolutely fine in dry and wet conditions unlike my experience of winters. The Tyre Tests seem to bear this out- as above they do seem a game changer and there are lots of other company's trying to do the same it seems.
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I also never bothered to change sizes, the wider WR A4s stil never had a problem cutting through deeper snow although the all wheel drive certainly helped with grip.
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A notable improvement since replacing my summers with Cross Climates is I no longer experience front tyre skip in the now colder temperatures (e-class AWD). Ie. The summers would annoyingly skip when ever I turned a corner in full lock due to the summer compound hardening in the cold and momenterally losing grip as I accelerated (even gently) to get around the corner. This is no longer happening with the new all seasons compound.
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Doccam wrote:
Same sizes- just changed the tyre on the wheel.
The Vred's were on a disco and were put on just before a trip down to the Alps. Down through France was cold (0-7°C from memory) and wet and it's the only time the car felt unsafe on a motorway. Previously had felt completely planted in same conditions on the factory fits (Pirelli zeros I think?) Same experience on the Volvo and then the golf with full winters-not sure why I persevered! Put CCs on golf early as the (Hancock's I think?) were just too scary and haven't tried anything different since. Just picked up Merc C class as factory fits needed changing with new CCs and in today's wet and miserable weather again felt completely different car (although admittedly old tyres really did need changing!).
Obviously they're not as good as winters in proper snow/ice but loads better than summers, and perform absolutely fine in dry and wet conditions unlike my experience of winters. The Tyre Tests seem to bear this out- as above they do seem a game changer and there are lots of other company's trying to do the same it seems.


Is your car a lot lighter than a disco? Tyres are also speed and weight rated, not sure what happens when you put a heavier rated tyre on a lighter vehicle but maybe this affects performance. As said before - could also be that the tyres were old. Taking off and reinstalling tyres on the same rims isn't advised as it doesn't do the tyres any good. Steel rims are pretty cheap and narrower tyres are generally cheaper.

I used to drive a light sports car, the summers were 215's while the winters were 165's. Putting 215's winters on it would have made it a nightmare to drive (aquaplaning etc) and would have cost more.
https://www.michelin.at/autoreifen/pkw-reifen#type=type_2&brand=ford&range=puma&model=puma&engine=1.7%2016v%20125&year=1997%20-%202002&selectedFilter=winter
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Changing tyres balance etc £20.00 per wheel now!! I'm sure I only paid a tenner year before last!
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@boredsurfin, yep that’s also the price here in SW London which makes it £160 a year for the two changeovers + extra for storage if required. For me it tilted the balance to fit all-seasons and be done with it. Doing it myself with 2nd set of wheels not an option as no space and no jack in car.
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Continental now recommends sticking with your wider tyre sizing in winter:

"It is a common misbelief that you shouldn’t use wide tires in winter. However, that is outdated. In fact, they offer a variety of benefits........"

https://www.continental-tires.com/car/technology/wide-tires
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