M+S Tires (or winter tires) are
a special type of pneumatic tire suitable for use on snow-covered or
muddy road surfaces. They can also be used on other low-grip
surfaces. Unlike “traditional” tires, the
rubber compound is specially formulated with a high silica content
giving better grip on asphalt, even at low temperatures.
This type of tire has replaced studded tires and is also replacing snow chains (they are treated as equipment to improve the grip of vehicles on low-grip surfaces in articles 6 and 7 of the Italian Highway Code). As snow chains can only be used when there is snow on the road, they have to be fitted as and when needed. M+S tires, on the other hand, are fitted at the beginning of the winter (when temperatures are below 7°C) and removed when the bad weather is over.
Why use winter tires? - To travel in all weather conditions;
- To reduce aquaplaning (M+S tires can drain up to 80% more water than traditional tires);
- To guarantee grip, traction and safety on snow;
- To reduce braking distances;
- To increase the useful lifespan of summer tires (by at least 40%).
It should be noted that:
- M+S tires wear more quickly when there is no snow on the road and when used in mild temperatures;
- M+S tires do not guarantee grip on ice, therefore snow chains or studded tires should be used in such conditions;
- The legal minimum is 1.6 mm for the tread of “standard” tires and 4 mm for “M+S” tires. If not respected, there is the risk of poor efficiency on snow and ice.
According to data from the Assogomma tire and rubber association and the Federpneus association of tire specialists, an estimated 15% of vehicles in circulation are already fitted with a double set of tires. In fact, sales of winter tires are strongly increasing (6.5 million being sold last winter compared to 4.5 million the previous winter). This is due to ever increasing product quality and to local regulations established by road and road management companies. In Italy, this includes some 24 provinces, 23 stretches of motorway, 20 municipalities, the roads in the 17 regions managed by ANAS (Italian government-owned company) and all roads in the Valle d'Aosta region where these measures have been in force for about 10 years.
To meet the growing demand for these tires, correct timing is needed in terms of production. In fact, manufacturers ask retailers to order tires in the spring for production in late spring/summer. In this way, the product is ready for delivery to the retailers at the end of the summer.
What are the related costs for drivers?
Those wishing to purchase a set of winter tires must consider the following costs:
- The set of tires;
- The tire fitting/removal service;
- A second set of rims (if necessary);
-The storage of the tires not in use (if necessary).
The cost of fitting the tires depends on whether a second set of rims is available. When there is a second set, the tires will not need fitting to the same rim. If tires are changed on the same rim, however, wheel alignment and balancing will then be required. In any case, this should be carried out by a trained mechanic or tire fitter to guarantee the safety of your car.
A trained mechanic or tire fitter must perform this important operation. The latest advanced equipment should be used, such as the Giuliano Crossage tire changer. It has a special tool to change the tire without using a traditional bead-lifting lever. It is also fitted with semi-circle bead braking equipment instead of the traditional bead breaker arm and blade.
As well as noticeably reducing the amount of effort required by the operator, this equipment ensures there is no permanent damage to the side of the tire (including the summer tire being removed and the winter one replacing it), and, as a result, ensures greater safety when you are driving.
The Giuliano Crossage tire changer is approved by the German company WDK as suitable to fit and remove high performance tires, such as RunFlat or UHP tires (Ultra High Performance).
All your tires should be approved and correspond to specific indications in your car logbook. You should check that they have been fitted properly and that the tire pressure is correct.