Changing tires is one of the biggest concerns for any driver.
On the one hand, in addition to being expensive, it is also time-consuming, and on the other hand, it is mandatory in Bulgaria, although the Road Traffic Act does not explicitly use the terms “winter” and “summer tires”. Instead, the requirement is from November 15th to March 1st that tires have 4mm grip.
Similar are the laws in Slovenia, Croatia and Latvia, for example, where drivers are not required to have winter tires, but only to have the required tread depth.
Therefore, some drivers decide that they can use so-called all-season tires. But is it safe?
The answer is “Yes and no”. Some drivers stagger in conspiracy thinking that the division between winter and summer tires was invented by their manufacturers to sell twice as much.
However, this is not the case, because the manufacturers themselves, including names such as Continental and Good Year, recognize that all-season tires have many advantages, only one of which is the financial aspect.
Continental is categorical in their blog that if you drive in a moderate climate, such as in southern Bulgaria, all-season tires do a great job.
In other words, if winter temperatures rarely fall below 10-15 degrees and snowfall is an absolute rarity, all-purpose tires are an adequate, safe and cheap alternative.
However, the same cannot be said for Sofia and the cities in Northern Bulgaria, where during the cold months, even during the day, the thermometer can show below 10 degrees. Such low temperatures damage the elastic rubber in tires, hardening it and making it brittle and brittle.
It is this more elastic rubber in other cases that is among the top advantages of all-season tires.
Thanks to it, they are suitable for a wide range of cars – from SUVs, through sedans and limousines to small city cars.
All-season tires have a deep, usually arc-shaped pattern, which also makes them comfortable to drive in wet weather, because they give good traction on the road and a strong splash of water backwards.
Tires with a universal arc pattern
Good Year states on their website one more thing – if the car is used only in urban conditions and not very often, changing winter tires to summer tires and vice versa is not profitable.
That is, if the car goes on the road once a week to the supermarket for a large weekly market and the other time serves for short city walks, universal tires remain the most reasonable and economical solution.
The rule applies even more to European cities, where the roads are cleaned conscientiously even in heavy snow.
However, all-season tires are a terribly bad and dangerous idea in real winter conditions, which sometimes “surprise” us in Bulgaria.
One look at winter tires shows why they are far more suitable in snow and ice. Their grapple is not only deep enough, but also wider and shaped like a tree with branches (some call it a pine tree).
With its help, the tire “bites” the snow or slippery icy road and has a strong, reliable grip on it. To this we add that the rubber is not so easily affected by subzero temperatures, retains its elasticity and gives the certainty that the braking distance will not be extended because of a stone-hardened word.
Winter tires are also an absolute must when going on a long journey in the cold weather, whether it is to another populated place or to the mountains.
A simple tip from the experts is to keep an eye on the weather forecast to make sure you’re on the road with the right tires for the conditions.
Winter tires with deep grip
And in fact, it is precisely the weather forecast that governs the laws for changing tires in some Western European countries.
For example, in Finland, tires with a grip of 5 millimeters or more are mandatory only in snowy conditions and sub-zero temperatures. The regulations are similar in more southern countries such as France and Italy.
In one form or another, deeper tread tires are required in winter conditions in Greece, Denmark and Cyprus as well.
From this point of view, Bulgaria falls into the “golden middle” of Europe, and whether Bulgarian drivers will choose winter or all-season tires in the winter depends mostly on their judgement.
However, it is not only the type of tires that is extremely important, but also conscientious driving, taking into account the weather and road conditions.