Hanover, Germany, October 18, 2022. The temperatures are dropping and energy consumption is on the rise. In the winter, electrical consumers in a vehicle, e.g. the heating, seat heating and heated windscreen and rear window, send its energy needs soaring. The ADAC automobile association in Germany calculates that 100 watts of power increases the vehicle’s fuel consumption by 0.1 liters per 100 kilometers. And its electric heating system can burn up to two liters of fuel over this distance. Tires are also under greater stress in winter than during the warmer months. The arrangement of the sipes in the tire tread and the composition of the rubber used in winter tires are adapted to the external conditions at this time of year in order to provide the necessary safety in snow, ice and cold temperatures. A side effect of this is that winter tires display higher rolling resistance, which has a greater impact on the tire’s energy efficiency. Tire wear is also greater and the tires need to be replaced after a few years because the tread depth is no longer sufficient. However, by adopting the correct driving style and treating the tires with care, drivers can get a lot of miles out of their new winter tires and, above all, ensure that those journeys are safe ones. Robert Waldmann, Head of Technical Customer Service DACH at Continental offers tips on how tires can be used in the most resource-efficient way possible.
Tire pressure has a major influence on the longevity of tires. Even a slight drop below the levels stipulated by the manufacturer can lead to unnecessarily high rolling resistance and therefore increased wear. For example, if tire pressure is 0.4 bar too low, this will reduce the lifespan of the tire by 30 percent. At the same time, fuel costs will rise by two percent. Waldmann therefore has the following words of advice: “Drivers who use their tires sparingly should check their tire pressures regularly – i.e. every two weeks – and top them up in line with the manufacturer’s guideline values if necessary. This information can be found in the vehicle handbook, on the inside of the driver’s or front passenger door or on the inside of the fuel filler cap. However, you also need to be careful not to overdo it, as putting too much air into the tires will also negatively affect their lifespan and the vehicle’s driving characteristics.”
Ideally, you should check the tread depth of the tires at the same time as the tire pressure. The minimum tread depth required by law in Europe is 1.6 millimeters, but Continental recommends replacing tires well before then for increased safety.
A sporty driving style – by that we mean hard acceleration, braking instead of coasting to a halt, and cornering at high speeds – in winter is not only dangerous, it also has a detrimental effect on the lifespan of winter tires. After all, driving in this high-impact fashion inflicts heavy wear on the tire treads. Indeed, drivers employing an anticipatory driving style will also be treating the tires more gently, as Waldmann explains: “This means leaving a sufficient distance to the vehicle in front and coasting as far as possible as you approach red traffic lights and stop signs, rather than braking.”
The lifespan of winter tires is not only reduced by excessively hard use, but also by errors in how they are looked after when not in use – e.g. incorrect storage can lead to deformation and material damage. To ensure they can enjoy their winter tires for a long time, owners should store them in a space with moderate ventilation and out of direct sunlight. Waldmann points out differences in how tires are stored: “Tires on rims should ideally be stored hanging up and with increased air pressure in them. Special brackets are available here that prevent deformation and pressure points. If the tires are not stored on rims, they can be stacked up, but should be turned regularly by a certain amount.” Continental recommends enlisting the services of a dealer or specialist workshop to ensure tires are stored professionally. The advantage here over storing them in a cellar or shed at home is that the tires are not only correctly stored, but also insured, checked for damage and balanced properly. All of which creates the ideal conditions for your tires to provide many seasons of safe driving.
Tires can only deliver maximum safety in the season for which they were developed. For this reason, Continental recommends swapping over tires at the right time around Easter and in October. “This way, as well as benefitting from the specific functionality of the tires for summer or winter, drivers can ensure that the ambient temperature does not have a damaging effect on the tires. When it’s warmer outside, winter tires wear more – and equally, summer tires suffer from accelerated wear in colder conditions,” says Waldmann.