Every year millions of motorists have to make a choice: buy snow chains, thermal tires or four seasons? Here are the tips to make the right choice.
As is well known, as punctual as a Swiss watch, every 15th of November begins the obligation to install snow tires on your car, four seasons or to have snow chains on board. This taxation refers to some Italian roads and highways, therefore not to the whole boot.
For this reason, the choice may be different depending on the areas in which you live, especially taking into account the possibility of snow and ice during the winter. Our advice aims to unravel any doubts about the best choice to make to respect the highway code, to be safe in case of snow or ice, but without doing unnecessary shopping.
Thermal tires: who they are for
Choosing to adopt thermal tires instead of summer ones, during the coldest months of the year, involves a critical expense. Although the highway code provides that, to be compliant, winter tires must be fitted even on the drive wheels, the first advice we can give you is to install the thermal tires on all four wheels.
Having only two, even if in compliance with the regulations, could still create stability problems, as most likely the level of wear of the summer tires compared to the winter ones will be higher. Therefore you could lose grip when braking.
The thermal rubbers, by their conformation, give their best when the temperature drops below 7 degrees centigrade. For this reason, they are to be taken into consideration for those who live in areas of Italy where this temperature limit is on the list, even if perhaps snow is a rather rare event.
So, it can be deduced that in all areas of northern Italy they are the best choice, even if, for example, in Milan on average the days when the thermometer drops below 7 degrees (at least during the day) are not many. It depends a lot on the winter that you will face, but this is impossible to know previously when you have to decide whether to mount snow tires or not.
Snow chains in hot areas
The lucky motorists who live in areas of Italy where the thermometer very rarely drops below 7 degrees centigrade can safely think of buying snow chains. If you are not used to spending the weekend in the mountains, the outlay for a train of snow tires is extra.
In addition to a significant saving compared to buying a good pair of snow chains, the car’s performance, with standard summer tires, will be better. As mentioned, above 7 degrees centigrade, snow tires wear out quickly enough and do not offer the same braking safety as summer tires.
The same applies in case of wet asphalt and, if you are faced with a slope with a lot of snow, you can be sure that thanks to the snow chains installed you can manoeuvre much better, even compared to cars that mount winter tires.
To choose the best ones to check on any online sales site and find the best selling snow chains ( check the list of the best offers here). At this point, you can choose the ones that are suitable for your car tires. The expense, in this case, will be contained, within 50 euros.
Four seasons for those who can’t decide
The most significant doubt can come to motorists who live in warm enough cities but who, for work or family reasons, sometimes have to go to colder areas of Italy. The best solution, in this case, is to equip your car with M + S tires (from English Mud and Snow) or the famous “4 seasons”.
These particular tires are suitable for travelling all 12 months of the year safely and are covered by the highway code among the compliant ones to be fitted in the winter months, so as not to incur penalties.
Lately more current models have improved considerably when they are facing snowy roads, a problem often attributed to the M + S tires of a few years ago. They are also less consumed when the asphalt temperature rises compared to the winter ones and offer average level performance in any condition, which makes their use satisfactory.
No wonder the four seasons tire indicated by the abbreviations M / S M&S or MS: all these indications are valid to determine an “all-season” tire, another element that identifies the four seasons tires.
If there is a pictogram on the shoulder of the tire with a snowflake in the centre of a stylized mountain, then we are dealing with thermal (winter) tires and not “all-season”. As for winter tires, the advice is to mount them on both axles and not only on the traction one.