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We're off to Germany (Soest) in December for a short trip to visit relatives and go to the winter market.

My car (Seat Leon 1.9 diesel) is running on Michelin Energy Saver tyres.

Googling indicates that they are classed as 'summer' tyres, not 'all seasons' tyres so I've a feeling I'm going to have to get a set of winter tyres to be legal in Germany in December.

Am I right?

Part of me thinks they'd be a decent investment for the rest of the winter in the UK anyhow, although being here in the temperate south, I doubt I'd need them for more than four months .

Also, there seem to be loads of winter tyre brands that I don't recognise - can anyone recommend a decent brand that won't break the bank (bearing in mind that I like my car and I'd like it to remain on the road and in one piece)?

The car has ESP & traction control etc and the brakes are extremely 'well assisted' (hair-trigger), so I want to make sure that whatever I put on grips as well as my summer tyres do now.

Any Germans around (or Scandinavians, or Finns etc - I'm not fussy, so long as you know your snow) who can offer advice on how to do this without going bankrupt?

Cheers

Andy

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See here mate: http://www.theaa.com...ips/germany.pdf

(from http://www.theaa.com...ybycountry.html )

Winter tyres mandatory if you want to stay legal (insurance might be void without them) - look for anything with M+S on them ( imagine all A/T tyres have this too).

Most of the main brands will do M+S tyres.

They will likely be a little more noisy than summer / good condition optimised tyres and fuel economy might be down a little too.

I would personally always go with known brand tyres - one of the most imprtant bits seeing they're hopefully the only part in contact with the road!

What size tyres have you got fitted currently?

:cheers:

Rich.

Edited by Retronaut
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Problem is the 'big name' brands (Michelin, Goodyear, Pirelli, Continental etc) are over £100 a tyre.

I've had to buy two new normal/summer fronts today (Michelin Energy Savers) thanks to a screw left in the road outside my house this morning.

That's set me back £195 for the pair :shocking:.

P-d me right off as they were down to 3mm, so due for changing before winter set in, but I was hoping to put four winter tyres on in mid November and delay buying new front summer tyres until I needed them again next spring.

No chance now - it's too early/warm to fit winter tyres now - they'd wear out in no time, so I'll have had to buy all six this year. :taz:

Tyres are 205/55/16 V91

I keep seeing Vredestein coming up on searches as decent winter tyres, but I've never heard of them.

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Have head of Vredstein - think they do a lot of oem fitment stuff. Get good reviews for their winter tyres online too.

Look at someone like mytres.co.uk - seem to have winters in your size from £58 fitted or more.

Brand wise I've not heard of the cheapest ones (not surprising) but certainly know Nangkang, Avon, Maxxis, Falken, Nexus, Kumho, BFG etc

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Vredestein have been well reviewed by Which for many years, I had four on a Golf some years back and they worked very well.

Don't discount the lesser brands as trash, all tyres made in the EU have to comply with the standards the community demands.:wink1:

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Thanks both, I was looking on mytyres website yesterday. Think they're actually a German company selling in to the UK.

At the moment, I'm leaning towards Vredestein or Falken.

My wifes Grandfather (we're going out to see her grandparents in December) also noted that driving out there without winter tyres in snow, slush or frost will gain you a point on your licence, so looks like the decision is made.

Still open to recommendations though.

Thanks

Andy

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Final thought - get a set of cheap 2nd wheels (probably steel) and put the winters on them. Just use them in winter here / when planning to go abroad and leave them in the garage / loft the rest of the year. Will last a few years like that and you'll save on tyre swap over costs / better fuel economy and wear in summer.

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I've never fitted winter tyres to any of my cars, in fact I've only noticed them advertised for sale in the UK in the past few years. However, I work in Austria every month and out there it's a legal requirement to have them fitted between about mid november until early march, so I'm used to driving on them in various hire cars. They do make a dramatic difference in deep snow, and give improved grip in cold wet conditions as well, but just remember they won't save you on sheet ice.

It's a good idea to have them fitted to a spare set of crappy wheels and swap them over for the winter months. Not only from a safety point of view, but also it means you can keep a decent set of alloys in good condition for the rest of the year.

I guess the main reason most people don't bother with them in this country is because we don't get extended periods of really bad snow, unlike out European friends:

DSC00518.jpg

(and yes, once the windows were cleared I drove straight out.... :lol: )

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As Stan said Vredestien were popular a few years ago but you don't see them advertised much these days. I spent a winter in Eastern Europe with my own car which had Falken tyres fitted and they were ok but also worth investing in a set of snow chains just in case. Not sure exactly the area you are going to but in some of the ski resort places you had to have them as well.

Personally I'd avoid the really cheap far east stuff, my golf currently has a set of NanKangs on it and they are woefull, in fact imho borderline dangerous in the wet, it slides all over the place if you are pressing on a bit. Another consideration is to go to a narrower tyre width say 185/195, the narrower the better in snow.

Then not forgetting all the other guff you now need in Europe, spare bulbs, warning triangle, hi-vis coats and whatever else these days.

Probably cheaper and less hassle to just sleasyjet it and hire something on arrival.

:lol: :lol:

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Another brand worth consideration is Nokia(n), imo. I had four on my series 2 Golf GTI and was impressed with their winter performance, despite being classed as summer tyres. They were very grippy in dry conditions and the sidewalls were determined not to give in too quickly in cornering.

I suspect the Finn's know a bit about driving in winter conditions, and that might translate in to their tyres (they've had some not too shoddy rally drivers over the years).

Best of luck with your choice. :)

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Thanks again. The breathalyzer thing was mentioned to me earlier this week.

I'm going to avoid the bottom of the range tyres and going for the £70 - £85 range. Hadn't heard of Nokian though - I'll do a bit of research.

Had a look through http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Article/2012-Auto-Bild-42-Winter-Tyre-Braking-Test.htm yesterday. Interesting to see the Falken in the top five as they're at the cheaper end of my budget.

I found that link to be quite useful as well. Most winter tyres seem to be reviewed in relation to how they'd perform on continental winter roads with lots of ice and snow. We have a temperate maritime climate, so the low temperature wet handling will be more important over the longer term. These aren't just being bought for the one trip to Germany, I'll use them over the next few winters here as well and we only get a few snow days.

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Also done forget 2 breathalyser kits for France. If you use one with the Police you need another, or they won't let you drive off even if sober.

What's this rule? Do you need to have your own kits in the car?

Yes believe so:

Breathalysers

On 1 March 2012 the French government confirmed that from 1 July 2012 drivers of all motor vehicles and motorcycles (excluding mopeds) must carry a breathalyser.

The regulation will be enforced from 1 November 2012 and anyone stopped after that date who fails to produce a breathalyser when requested will receive an on the spot fine of €11.

The official announcement states that one unused, certified breathalyser must be produced showing the French certification mark NF. Carrying two single-use breathalysers will ensure that if one is used or damaged, you will still have a spare to produce.

The breathalyser produced has to be in date - single-use breathalysers normally have a validity of twelve months.

Check our touring tips for France for the latest information.

Breathalysers - latest

The implementation of the sanction for drivers not carrying a breathalyser – a fine of €11 – has been postponed from 1 November 2012 to 1 March 2013.

(October 2012)

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As an alternative - What about snow chains ? Cheap & save a lot of hassle. for just a holiday?

Sadly wouldn't meet the legal requirements for Germany though.

A colleague used snow boots over here last year and found them a god-send for getting out of her hilly street (although couldn't get them back off again when the thaw came).

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As an alternative - What about snow chains ? Cheap & save a lot of hassle. for just a holiday?

Snow chains are needed if driving in deep snow, for example in the mountains, especially when the roads aren't cleared. You can't used them on the motorway or in town where the roads are ploughed and gritted. The only time you'd need them on 'normal' roads would be in a really heavy snow storm when the ploughs haven't got through yet. But then then traffic jam will stop you going anywhere anyway.

-wotsch

Edited by wotsch
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Final thought - get a set of cheap 2nd wheels (probably steel) and put the winters on them. Just use them in winter here / when planning to go abroad and leave them in the garage / loft the rest of the year. Will last a few years like that and you'll save on tyre swap over costs / better fuel economy and wear in summer.

Yep, this is what most people do in Germany, for example. That's why the cars all look so shoddy in the winter - shiny alloys are taken off, black steel rims go on.

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So - the big question - what brand(s) do you use and why?

Michelins, but only because that's the company policy and it's their car (which is also why I can't comment on whether they're value for money). Never had any problems with the tyres except getting a nail in one of them.

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Thanks.

I'd already placed an order by the time I saw Wotch's post, but ended up going for Vedestrein Snowtrac 3s on a set of steel wheels from mytyres.com - they seemed to be the best balance between price and performance (bit dated now, but they came fourth in the Autobild test in 2010 after the 'big name brands', but were £10 - £15 a wheel cheaper).

Will wait to see whether they prove worthwhile on the lanes round here.

I've had some nasty surprises in icy/frosty weather over the last few years see two or three cars nose first or upside down in ditches each winter. I wasn't looking forward to this winter. Even so, I felt a bit daft bying winter tyres here in the temperate south.

The Germany trip kind of forced my hand.

Edited by Who. Me?
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