January 9, 2018
Polish Tyre Industry Association (PTIA)
PTIA: Tips to consider before you leave for winter break

Up to 70% of Poles who leave for vacation chooses car as their means of transport1. How to make our trip go smoothly, but most importantly safely? Tyres – as the only part of vehicle in contact with the road – have a huge impact on road safety. We should never hit the road without functional and appropriate for the season tyres.

How to prepare a car for winter vacations? 

  1. Using the appropriate tyre for the season is an absolute prerequisite. Driving on tyres with winter homologation is still recommended, even if the winter is snowless and temperatures rarely drop below 0ºC. Winter and all-season tyres can be easily identified by the Alpine symbol2 on their sidewall – the three-peak mountain and a snowflake symbol. The M+S symbol alone, without the company of the Alpine symbol, does not denote neither the winter tyre nor the all-season one, as it has not been granted the winter homologation.
  2. Check your tyre pressure – how should you know just how much air should tyres have? Take a look at the car’s instruction manual or the sticker on the car’s central stanchion – the manufacturer determines the appropriate tyre pressure, with which the driver should obtain an optimal traction on the road. It’s also worth to check the pressure of the spare tyre. The difference of just 0,5 bar impacts tyre’s properties – the braking distance lengthens by even up to 4 metres, fuel usage increases along with the noise. One should remember that whenever the temperatures drop, so does the tyre pressure.
  3. Check Tire Tread – its minimal depth in Poland is 1,6 mm. When refuelling, take a 2 zł coin and check if your tyre meets this requirement. The golden rim of the coin should be completely covered by the tread. A car with tyres which tread is shallower than 1,6 mm is unridable and constitutes a serious threat to safety! It’s worth to check the given manufacturer’s tread depth recommendations.
  4. Pay attention to the smallest cracks, fracture or bulges – they can be a sign of exterior or internal damage. Most often, they result from driving over a deep pothole or storm drain and are considered as potentially hazardous – the damaged tyre can break while you are on the road. One should also check the condition of the spare tyre. If you notice such cracks in your tyres, visit a good tyre service for an expert diagnosis.
  5. If you are heading to the mountains, you should be equipped with snow chains. They could come in handy on snow-covered mountain roads. Before you leave, practise fitting snow chains on car tyres. Snow chains should be bought and put on all drive wheels of the car.

Using winter or all-season tyres with winter homologation is one of the easiest ways to improve our road safety. Such tyres guarantee better traction and shorter braking distance in a wide spectrum of autumn/winter weather conditions. Drivers have to remember that good tyres – just like good cars – have to be taken care of. Regular check of tyre pressure and the depth of tyre tread are fundamental activities, which every driver can perform in just a couple of minutes. We should also take this opportunity to take a closer look a tour tyres and check whether or not they are damaged, have any grazes or fractures. Just a few minutes spent on our tyres can save us a lot of time and money, but more importantly, prevent a dangerous failure – says Piotr Sarnecki, Director General of Polish Tyre Industry Association (PTIA).

The rubber compound used in winter tyres consists of more natural rubber and silica, thanks to which it does not harden in low temperatures. A special winter tread pattern allows the water to drain away faster, grips on snow and thanks to spacious, self-locking sipes it also ensures safety on dry roads. The rubber compound as well as the tread are key elements that increase traction and thus shorten the braking distance3.

Modern winter or all-season tyres with winter homologation made by renowned manufacturers do not differ from their summer countertypes when it comes to fuel efficiency. This common misconception results mainly from tougher driving conditions as well as having to warm cars and engines up, which takes a longer time – especially on short distances.


The use of winter tyres has a positive impact on braking and traction4. Auto Express tests comparing summer tyres to the winter type5  show us just how much tyres well suited to the temperature, wetness and slipperiness of the surface help the driver to control the vehicle and confirm the difference in performance between winter and summer tyres not only on a snow-covered road, but also on a wet surface: 

  • While driving on an icy road on winter tyres at the speed of 32 km/h, the braking distance can be reduced by up to 11 metres in comparison to the braking distance of summer tyres, which is equivalent to 3 car lengths!
  • While driving on a snow-covered road at the speed of 48 km/h, the car with winter tyres will come to a full stop 31 metres sooner than the car on summer tyres!
  • On a wet surface at a temperature of +6°C, the braking distance of a car driving on summer tyres was 7 metres longer than that of a car on winter tyres. The most popular cars have the length of a little over 4 metres. At the point in which the car with winter tyres stopped, the car with summer tyres was still travelling at 32 km/h.
  • On a wet surface at a temperature of +2°C the braking distance of a car driving on summer tyres was 11 metres longer than that of a car on winter tyres.

The rubber compound as well as the tread are key elements that increase traction and thus shorten the braking distance, which often prevails collisions and saves lives. You should never skimp on safety. Before leaving for winter break, equip yourself with good quality, homologated winter tyres. Let’s remember – tyres are the third fastest rotating element of a vehicle after turbocharger and camshaft and the only part of the car in contact with the road – its sudden failure (e.g. burst) is a great danger for all road users – adds Piotr Sarnecki.

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1 Ipsos Poland for Mondial Assistance, May 2017 

2 It has been designated by UN Regulation No. 117 and introduced by EU Regulation 661/2009

4 The benefit of winter tyres: summer vs. all season vs. winter, 

5 Winter Tyres v Summer Tyres: the Truth! - Auto Express,


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