Safety on the road: Everything you need to know about changing & storing tyres
When it comes to the safety and optimal performance of your vehicle, there's not much more important than making sure you have right tyres fitted at the right time. In Germany, we use the rule of thumb “from O to O”, i.e. from Easter (Ostern) to October, to remind us that summer tyres provide better grip and higher efficiency in the warmer months. Winter tyres, on the other hand, should be fitted between October and Easter to ensure the necessary grip on snow and slippery roads. In this article, you will learn not only how to carry out the tyre change step by step, but also how to properly store your tyres during the respective off-seasons when they are not in use. With our tips and tricks, you are guaranteed to be safe and comfortable on the road, no matter what time of year.
INFO: Tread depth
German legislation stipulates that wheels must have a tread depth of no less than 1.6 mm, both for summer and for winter. Otherwise, you could face a hefty fine and points on your licence. However, at least 3 mm is recommended for summer tyres and 4 mm for winter tyres. So make sure your tyres have a deep enough tread before you bolt them onto your car. This will keep you safe while driving.
Can I drive on winter tyres in the summer?
In theory, you can also drive on winter tyres in summer. In practice, however, this is not a good idea. From a legal standpoint, you are allowed to leave your winter tyres on your car through the summer months, so there's no risk of being fined. So it can be very tempting to save yourself the hassle of changing tyres and just keep on driving. In particular, if your winter tyres have less than 4 mm of tread depth and are no longer suitable for winter, it may even be worthwhile for cost reasons to continue using them as long as you can. However, winter tyres show weaknesses at high temperatures, which you can avoid by switching to a suitable summer tyre. A warm Alpine tyre has little grip on a hot, dry roadway, which results in longer braking distances. For this reason, it is definitely recommended to change tyres with the seasons.
When should you change your tyres
As we have already mentioned, you should always make sure your car has the right tyres for the time of year. The rule of thumb is "from E to O". Winter tyres should therefore be installed on your car from October to Easter, and summer tyres from Easter to October. However, this is only a rough guide to give you a general idea. After all, weather conditions mean you can't always equip your vehicle with summer tyres at Easter. If there is still snow or overnight frost which leaves the roads icy, you should keep using your winter tyres for longer.
Are all-season tyres a good alternative?
If changing tyres is too time-consuming and expensive for you, there is an alternative: the all-season tyre. You can drive these tyres all year round – on hot tarmac and slushy roads alike. Sounds too good to be true? We show you the pros and cons:
no twice-yearly tyre changes
no need to purchase separate winter and summer tyres
no problems with storage
solid performance in all weathers
saving time and money
poorer handling in extreme weather conditions
higher/faster wear due to use all year round
should be replaced annually for safety reasons
In short: if you drive a low-power car in a big city, i.e. predominantly short distances in urban traffic, a year-round tyre can be worthwhile for you. If you drive a sporty model packing a lot of horsepower and you value good cornering dynamics and optimal grip, you should definitely opt for two sets of wheels.
INFO: Tyre storage
Almost every car repair shop offers tyre storage for the respective off-season for a fee. So if you don't have a way to store your wheels at home, this service can be really worthwhile. And you won't have to worry about the right or wrong storage conditions.