28 Feb 2019

If you had to drive in the snow and ice earlier this month you may have wished you were more prepared with the right tyres for these conditions.

While it isn’t compulsory in the UK, it is in parts of northern Europe and there are good reasons for this. This month, we take a look at what you need to do to prepare for a trip to Europe this winter so that you are not only legal but safe.

Winter tyres

There are a number of countries in which using winter tyres is a legal requirement. This could be between set times of the year – typically between November and March but it does vary – or by the use of signs indicating to motorists that winter tyres are required during particularly adverse weather conditions. Countries where it is a legal requirement or necessary when indicated include:

  • Austria
  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden

Each country will specify the precise minimum requirements for winter tyres so do check before travelling. These will include a minimum tread of 3mm, with some specifying 4mm as a minimum, and they will generally be softer than all-weather or summer tyres. This combination of features allows for better grip on icy and snow-covered roads giving you greater control when braking.

Snow chains

While many countries do not legally require the use of winter tyres, they may specify occasions when the use of snow chains is necessary so check before setting off as you may need to have some in your car with you. Snow chains are fitted over tyres and improve road grip in adverse weather. While some designs can fit a wider variety of tyres, getting the ones that best fit your tyres is the safer option, particularly if you are not accustomed to driving with snow chains.

When driving with snow chains you must reduce your speed to avoid them failing. Maximum speed with snow chains is no more than 50 km/h – or 30 mph. If a chain snaps while the vehicle is moving it can cause damage to the car so driving at slower speeds not only reduces the chances of one breaking, but it also allows you to stop quickly and change it if necessary.

Make sure that snow chains are well fastened and tightened. You may find you need to stop and retighten after a short distance when you have first fitted them. As soon you get to dry road you must stop and remove the snow chains. Not doing so will not only damage the road surface but could also lead to sliding when you break.

Unsure of what you need to do when travelling abroad this winter? Let us help! All our vans will come equipped with what you need for travelling abroad, just tell one of our CVS Van Hire team what you need or where you are going. Give us a call on 020 8003 2785 and we are sure we can find the right vehicle for you, wherever you are going and whatever you need it for.