Do Tyres Lose Grip In Cold Weather?

Do Tyres Lose Grip In Cold Weather?

The team at our family-owned tyre shop in Pukekohe gets asked a very common question at this time every year: will my tyres lose their grip in cold weather. It’s a really good question, and in many cases, it is inspired by what our customers see when they watch motor racing on TV. Cars with a new set of “cold” tyres do take some time to come up to speed as the grip isn’t quite as warm tyres, and it’s just natural that our customers think the same thing happens when their tyres are cold over winter.

The fact is, changes in temperature DO affect the air pressure in your tyres. As it’s not your tyres that support your vehicle, but the air within the tyres themselves, then this will obviously have an effect on grip and performance. There are four main factors that alter tyre pressure: the ambient temperature, which is air temperature outside the tyre, sun exposure, the temperature of the tyre itself and leakage, which is either naturally occurring or caused by a puncture.

With all this in mind, it will come as no surprise when we tell you that your tyres will have less pressure than they do in summer. This will have several consequences beyond just grip and handling issues:

  • lower pressures in your tyres will increase fuel consumption
  • wear on the tyres is greater
  • braking distance is lengthened to a significant degree
  • affects steering and handling
  • in extreme cases, an under-inflated tyre can overheat and delaminate

When you look at all of these consequences of lower tyre pressure, it becomes clear that you should pay extra attention to tyre pressure and keep them inflated during winter. But there is a catch. The rolling resistance of your tyres on the road will heat them up, as the rubber becomes deformed under pressure as well as friction from the road surface a- both actions produce heat. On a long road trip, your tyres will become warm, and this is actually a bad time to check pressure or fill the tyres. They should always be filled when they are cold. This is because when you’re driving, tyre pressure increases around 1 PSI every five minutes for the first twenty minutes. After that, it stabilises so even a short drive to the garage to check your tyres can result in an inaccurate reading. And you must also factor in that driving in wet weather doesn’t cause the same heat buildup as dry weather as water on the road cools the tyres.

We reckon you should get your tyres, and the rest of your vehicle, properly checked before hitting the roads this winter. We suggest you contact us and let us look after our tyres in winter – and during every other season as well!