Snow Tyres in Australia
Do you really need them?
When you picture an Australian winter you probably don’t imagine our vast and diverse landscape covered in a blanket of white snow. More likely you think of a cool, fresh breeze at the beach, or an opportunity to wear long pants and socks.
While most of Australia avoids the cold temperatures that bring heavy snowfall, there are some parts of the country where the mercury drops just low enough to experience snow just one season a year. So, if you’re planning on a trip to the alpine regions, you may also be considering whether you need snow tyres for your trip.
But what exactly are snow tyres and do you really need them in Australia? Read on to find out.
What are snow tyres?
The science behind winter wheels
o Unique tread patterns to improve grip
o Tyres are covered with tiny grooves that increase traction
o Designed with a higher level of natural rubber
o A unique logo is used for easy identification
Snow tyres or winter tyres are specifically designed for driving on roads that are covered in snow or ice. They have unique tread patterns that work to improve grip on snowy or icy ground.
When tyres are used on snow or ice, the top layer of snow melts, leaving a thin coat of water. This is why snow tyres are covered with sipes (tiny grooves) that remove the water and enhance the tyre traction with the surface.
Temperature also plays a part. As the weather gets cooler, the rubber used in regular tyres becomes inflexible - impacting the level of traction. Snow tyres have a higher level of natural rubber which helps them to remain flexible when temperatures fall below 7°C.
You can easily identify a snow tyre by the unique winter tyre identification logo (pictured below).
Where are snow tyres used around the world?
Snow tyres are used in many countries around the world whether it’s seasonal use or year-round. Regulations vary from country to country so it’s important to investigate tyre rules and requirements if you’re planning a snow trip overseas. The maps below detail some of the countries in Europe that enforce seasonal or year-round use of snow tyres.
Do I need to use winter tyres in Australia?
Winter comes once a year, but only a small number of regions in Australia will ever actually experience snow. Winter tyres are only necessary when temperatures fall below 7 degrees and for many Australians, a winter's day can range anywhere between 10 and 30 degrees Celsius (hello far north Queensland).
Winter tyres are softer in order to provide enhanced flexibility in snowy and icy conditions. The problem with this is that they aren’t as resilient to general day to day wear and tear - particularly in warmer weather. This means that they are generally not appropriate for our hot and dry Aussie landscape. But, we always recommend using tyres to meet your requirements, so if in doubt, ask an expert.
If you choose to use snow tyres on your vehicle, it’s worth bearing in mind that you may also be required to use a snow chain when travelling on snow or ice affected roads.
Regulations state that you must carry snow chains in alpine and snowy regions in Victoria and NSW and be able to fit them when directed
Extra care must also be taken to make sure that snow tyres have not worn down too much. It is a legal requirement to ensure that your tyres are always kept in a roadworthy condition.
When was the last time you had your tyres checked?
We recommend booking in for a vehicle inspection at least once every 6 months to keep your car running safely.