Winter tires, summer tires what you need to know about car tires

When summer tires make sense, when winter tires are a must? We answer the most important questions about car tires and summarize current ADAC tire tests.

  1. The best winter tires from the ADAC tests
  2. Tire types: summer tires, winter tires and all-season tires
  3. Energy label for tires
  4. Finding the right tire size
  5. Safe tires: tread depth, tire pressure, aging
  6. Store and change tires
  7. The best summer tires from the ADAC test

The best winter tires from the ADAC tests

The right grip. A good tire is especially important in winter on ice and snow. © ISP grube / wolfgang grube

The ADAC regularly rolls tires for the colder season. In the tests, the automobile club tests tires of different dimensions from year to year. We summarize the test results of the latest tests.

Winter tires for small and mid-size cars in test (2021)

In the new winter tire test, the ADAC has tested tires for small cars such as VW golf and opel astra (tire size: 195/65 R15) as well as tires for mid-size cars such as BMW 3-series and audi A4 tested (tire size: 225/50 R17).

Among the tires for mid-size cars, two were deficient: goodride Z-507 zuper snow and linglong green-max winter UHP. While the goodride fails on snow, the linglong skids in the wet. Recommended tires for mid-size cars are from dunlop, michelin and goodyear.

For the compact class, the testers recommend models from the same brands as well as the tire from vredestein.

The complete tables with all test results for winter tires for mid-size cars and for small cars can be found on the ADAC website.

The best on snow among the 225 tires

The 225/50 R17 winter tires tested were in speed class V, i.e. approved for a maximum of 250 kilometers per hour. The dunlop winter sport 5 was the best on snow with a score of 1.5.

On dry and wet roads, the michelin alpin 6 was slightly better. The goodyear ultra grip performance + achieved just a good, but was already third in the test. All three models are quite expensive, each costing over 160 euros a piece.

In addition to core properties such as braking distance and directional stability, smoothness of running was also included in the evaluation. Here the dunlop was quite loud. For this, it was fuel-efficient in relation to the others. The michelin, on the other hand, showed low wear despite its good characteristics on dry and wet roads.

Cheap tires had weaknesses

If 160 euros for a tire is too expensive for you, you could go for the Kleber krisalp HP3 (127 euros). he received a demotion because he only achieved a grade of 2.7 on wet asphalt.

The nexen winguard sport 2, on the other hand, is less expensive at 107 euros, but its driving characteristics are only average and its wear is quite high. And the esa+tecar supergrip pro can be had for as little as 99 euros. But except for snow, its braking properties are also only average – and snow is nowadays in most areas in winter usually rarer than dry or wet roads. It is also quite loud, but has the lowest fuel consumption in the test.

Tires for the lower middle class

In the popular 195/65 R15 tire segment (e.g., for VW golf or opel astra), the T speed class (up to 190 km/h) was the most popular. Here were four good and eleven satisfactory examples in the test. Only two tires were not good on snow. However, the ADAC testers noticed that the mileage was quite low in the test field – between 21.800 and 34.400 kilometers.

Four good tires from 70 euros

Dunlop winter response 2 for 81 euro, goodyear ultragrip 9+ (82 euro), michelin alpin 6 (85 euro) and the vredestein wintrac (70 euro) were practically equal in braking distance and driving stability on snow, rain and dry roads.

However, differences can be found. Among the four models, the goodyear has the best grip on wet, the michelin the highest mileage in the test. the vredestein also achieves many kilometers. Dunlop and vredestein need quite little fuel. So the vredestein is a good combination of environmental and wallet friendliness.

All-season tires in test (2020)

The all-season tire test of the ADAC automobile club shows that all-weather tires are usually no match for the special tires for summer or winter. Seven models for larger cars such as vans were tested. On dry asphalt and also on ice and snow, all the all-rounders had longer braking distances than good summer or winter tires. The best, but only adequate, performance was achieved by the continental allseasoncontact tire.

The complete table with all test results can be found on the ADAC website.

Winter tires for minibuses and vans

With the motorhome to the winter holiday. With good tires, you’re much safer on the road. © ADAC / wolfgang grube

Already in 2019, the ADAC took models for vans, minibuses but also motor homes in the class 205/65 R16 C for 73 to 77 euro. The winter van tires tested held up better than the summer models previously tested by ADAC, but lasted significantly shorter – at 40,000 kilometers or less, only about half as long.

The best tire tested in this category was the continental vancontactwinter for 147 euros per tire. It comes out on top on dry and wet roads. The michelin agilis alpin for 151 euro gets the best result in mileage. The pirelli carrier winter for 136 euros needs less fuel, but is poor in the wet.

The complete tables can be found on the ADAC website: all ADAC winter tire tests.

Tires 175/65 R14 T for small cars (2018)

Snow trip. In the Finnish polar night, the tires for the ADAC winter tire test 2018 rolled out. © ISP grube / wolfgang grube

Whether compact class or small car: there are good tires for the cold season. Many low-wear tires are weaker on snow, however. The tire size was tested 175/65 R14 T with a ford fiesta.

The best tires for small cars

There were two clear winners among the 175-millimeter-wide tires: the contintental wintercontact TS 860 for 72 euros and the dunlop winter response 2 for 71 euros. They braked by far the best in the wet and snow, in wear they were average. The esa-tecar super grip 9 scored moderately in the wet and on snow, but won on fuel consumption and costs only 44 euros.

Environmental enthusiasts go for the goodyear ultragrip 9. It costs 71 euros, and in the test combined very little wear with low fuel consumption and scored "good" in the rain and "satisfactory" on snow.

The complete tables can be found on the ADAC website: all ADAC winter tire tests.

tire types: summer tires, winter tires and all-season tires

Snow and ice. Summer tires are prohibited in these weather conditions. © getty images / sean gallup

When are winter tires obligatory?

If you drive in winter road conditions, you need winter tires. There is no specific date for the compulsory use of winter tires. The law refers to "wintry weather conditions". In concrete terms, the road traffic regulations refer to black ice, slippery snow, slush, ice or slippery tires.

that winter tires are better at temperatures below 7 degrees at the latest is a myth according to tuv. Tire expert torsten hesse from tuv thuringen says: "modern summer tires can have advantages over winter tires even just above the freezing point."nevertheless, he considers the O-to-O rule of thumb to be reasonable: "winter tires from october to easter".

ADAC regularly tests winter tires. We have summarized the results of the latest ADAC winter tire test.

What are the fines??

Whoever violates the winter tire requirement must expect a point in flensburg: this is how the point system works. additional fine of 60 euros, more if you cause an accident or obstruct others.

Can you drive with winter tires all year round??

It is at least not prohibited. But winter tires have glaring weaknesses in summer. The braking distance on dry roads is significantly longer. Driving stability is also impaired, especially cornering behavior, warns ADAC. In addition, there is the high tire wear in summer.

Winter tires in the alps

Europe-wide are 1.6 millimeter tread depth mandatory – also for winter tires. But to be fully effective, they should be at least four millimeters thick. In the alpine countries, there are also different winter tire regulations for passenger cars.

Austria: from 1. November to 15. April winter tires are mandatory on roads with ice and snow. They must be marked M+S, M.Have S or M&S. Switzerland: there is no obligation to have winter tires, but there is a fine if cars with the wrong tires obstruct traffic. France: no general winter tire obligation. But partly snow chains are mandatory, alternatively winter tires are sufficient. Italy: no obligation. winter tires or snow chains are only mandatory on some roads. On the Brenner freeway from 15. November to 15. April winter equipment. Then winter tires are sufficient.

Are all-weather tires allowed in winter?

All-season tires. The abbreviation "M+S" stands for "mud and snow". But means the same. © ADAC / wolfgang grube

All-season tires are an alternative to changing tires in the fall – but only all-weather tires with an alpine symbol are permitted in winter: a mountain pictogram with a snowflake. M+S tires without the alpine symbol are permitted until the end of 2024, and only if they were manufactured before 2018.

However, all-season tires have disadvantages: they are not as safe as real winter tires, have a longer braking distance than real summer tires, wear out faster and cost more fuel. What’s more, their purchase price is often higher. At least there’s no need to change tires twice a year, which is expensive and inconvenient. Maybe that’s why their market share is rising. The last test of all-season tires by the ADAC dates from 2020.

What makes a good summer tire?

Aquaplaning. A good summer tire keeps contact with the road even in heavy rain. © adobe stock

Strong braking on wet and dry roads, quiet running, low fuel consumption and low wear – that’s what makes a good tire. For summer tires, the most important thing is that the tires transfer the driving, steering and braking forces of the car well to the road surface, even on rain-soaked roads.

A sophisticated tread design – with wide longitudinal grooves, for example – prevents the car from losing contact with the road and becoming impossible to steer because of aquaplaning. The special rubber compound ensures good handling and short braking distances.

The ADAC regularly tests summer tires. We have summarized the results of the latest ADAC summer tire test.

Accident with summer tires in winter – does the insurance pay??

Motor vehicle liability insurance also pays if someone is driving with the wrong tires – but only for the damage caused by the other party. Fully comprehensive insurance applies to the tire on your own car. It may reduce the amount in the event of gross negligence. For example, the insurance company did not have to pay anything when a man with summer tires had an accident in the Alps (Frankfurt/Main Higher Regional Court, az. 3 U 186/02).

On the other hand, the hamburg regional court did not find it negligent when a car on summer tires slid into a wall on snowy roads. It is possible that this would also have happened with winter tires (az. 331 S 137/09).

In any case, stiftung warentest recommends rates that do not reduce coverage in the event of gross negligence. Find the best car insurance for your needs with our car insurance comparison tool.

Energy label for tires

EU energy label (old left, new right) for winter tires. It can be recognized by the jagged mountain with the snowflake.

The EU efficiency label now also applies to Hummis

There is also an energy label for tires. Since may 2021, the situation has been somewhat different and now also applies to bus and truck tires. It must stick to every tire sold. Or at least in the immediate vicinity. However, the provisional label may continue to be used indefinitely.

The new label leads to a european product database via a QR code in the top right-hand corner. It also shows data on rolling resistance, braking distance on wet roads and rolling noise when driving. These are far fewer properties than, for example, the ADAC automobile club measures in its tests. In addition, the manufacturers themselves are responsible for classification. At least according to standardized test methods.

Saving fuel with the right tires

At the top are the manufacturer, type designation, size and other categories of the tire. This is followed on the left by the rolling resistance scale. The spectrum of these energy efficiency classes ranges from A (highest efficiency) to E (lowest efficiency) – with the old label from A to G.

According to the ADAC, the difference between the best and worst class corresponds to an additional consumption of half a liter of fuel per 100 kilometers. However, practically only class B and C tires are on the german market. So in reality the difference is smaller.

Braking distance – but only in wet conditions

The right-hand column of the new label shows braking distance on wet roads. The range of wet grip classes also extends from A (shortest braking distance on wet asphalt) to E (longest braking distance). Braking distance on dry roads is not measured. If a mountain with three prongs and a snow crystal is depicted below it, the tire has reached a prescribed minimum grip on snow – it is a winter tire. If the symbol is missing, the tire is considered a summer tire.

In our widths, it is rather rare to find a mountain at the very bottom right – with stylized gray ice jags in it. It should represent a minimum skid resistance on ice. In scandinavia, it is seldom found.

How much noise does the tire make?

For external noise, the passing noise, the classification includes classes A (quieter) and B (more external noise); the applicable letter is printed in bold type. In addition, the sound pressure is given in decibels, often also found as db(A). Noise levels that previously corresponded to class C are no longer permitted. The inner noise of the tires, which is transmitted to the inside of the vehicle via the rims, must be distinguished from this noise.

Finding the right tire size

The tire size permitted for a particular vehicle depends on engine power, vehicle weight and maximum speed. The size – or dimension – is stated in the vehicle registration document (registration certificate part 1), in lines 15.1 and 15.2. Since october 2005, only one tire size has been specified in the new vehicle registration document. This is usually that of the smallest summer tire approved for the vehicle.

What does the marking on the tire mean?

The combination of numbers and letters on the side of the tire indicates the tire size (dimension). Here’s how to decipher the marking:

example: 175/65 R14 T tire width: this tire is 175 millimeters wide. Height-to-width ratio: the /65 indicates the ratio of height to width. The smaller the number, the flatter the tire. Small numbers are typical for wide tires. Tire type: "R" codes the type and stands for radial tire, the most common type of tire today. Rim diameter: 14 is the rim diameter in inches. Speed class: the last letter codes the maximum permissible speed in speed classes. Q: up to 160 km/h, S: up to 180 km/h, T: up to 190 km/h, H: up to 210 km/h, V: up to 240 km/h, W: up to 270km/h and Y: up to 300km/h and ZR: over 240 km/h.

Which tire sizes are still allowed?

Other approved tire sizes can be used in the so-called "wide tires" COC certificate (certification of conformity), which has been supplied with new cars since october 2005. If the original certificate is no longer available, this data sheet can often be downloaded from the internet – for example, from the manufacturer’s website. Keep it in the vehicle to prevent trouble at traffic controls.

At the main inspection, the sticker may be refused if tires are fitted that are not approved for the vehicle. Or the experts will only issue them after a chargeable acceptance and registration of the wheel-tire combination.

Which rims fit?

The correct rim size for a tire is indicated in the marking in inches. tires with a larger diameter also need correspondingly larger rims. It is important that such wheel-tire combinations, which are usually wider, are approved by the car manufacturer. Reason: the tire must not drag on the edge of the fender even when heavily loaded, for example when turning into curves.

Independent. Objective. Incorruptible.

Safe tires: tread depth, tire pressure, aging

Tread depth: minimum 1.6 millimeters are mandatory

In europe, tires for passenger cars and motorcycles must be sized for safety reasons a tread depth of at least 1.6 millimeters have. If the tires have less tread, they are no longer allowed on the road. Because they are no longer considered roadworthy. Worn tires can be expensive – at least a 60 euro fine and a point in flensburg. Vehicle owners are responsible for checking the tread depth on a regular basis.

According to the German automobile association (ADAC), tires should be changed much earlier for safe driving, starting at a tread depth of 3 to 4 millimeters. In some european countries, regulations apply that are stricter than the 1.6 millimeters. In austria, for example, winter tires are considered summer tires if they have less than 4 millimeters of tread depth. This means that certain routes, for example some mountain passes, may not be driven on in winter.

Tire pressure: check regularly

There is a lot to be said for paying attention to the correct inflation pressure of car tires: tires wear out more quickly or irregularly, flabby tires increase fuel consumption, overinflated tires impair ride comfort. in addition, according to the german automobile association (ADAC), "27 people die every year in traffic accidents due to technical defects in the tires". The automobile club therefore advises: at the gas station check the air pressure every two weeks.

Measure and adjust tire pressure correctly

In newer cars, sensors control tire pressure

Newer cars are often already equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, or TPMS for short. It permanently measures tire pressure via sensors in the valve or indirectly via sensors of the ABS and warns if the tire pressure is not correct. This system has been mandatory since the end of 2014 for newly registered cars and some campers. According to the ADAC, these systems increase safety, but cannot replace regular checks.

Aging: when do tires need to be replaced??

Even if a tire still has enough tread, it may be time for a change. Because the material ages and hardens over the years – this can impair braking properties and grip. According to the ADAC, this is particularly important for winter tires. The automobile club therefore advises: winter tires should not be older than eight years, replace summer tires after eight to ten years.

How to tell the age of a tire

Are the tires ready for retirement?? And how long has the "new" tire been in the store?? The DOT number on the tire sidewall helps further. It is found in an oval embossing and indicates calendar week and year of manufacture date.

Example: DOT 3519

This tire was tested in the 35. calendar week 2019 produced. by the way, DOT stands for department of transportation, the u.s. regulatory agency.

Store and change tires

How tires last longer

Direct sunlight, artificial light with a high UV content and high temperatures damage the tire rubber. To ensure that tires do not suffer when they are not in use, they should therefore be stored in a cool place store in a dark, dry and cool place. The optimum temperature is 15 to 20 degrees Celsius. During storage, the tires should also not come into contact with oil, grease, fuel and other chemicals – they can attack the material.

Storing tires: the right way to do it

Changing tires: this is important

The ADAC provides detailed instructions and tips on how to change a tire regularly. However, if you have little experience changing tires or have to handle large, heavy wheels, it’s better to have them changed at a garage.

To be fit in the event of a flat tire, it is important to know that, what emergency equipment is available in the car is. If the car starts to float or a tire blows out: switch on the hazard warning lights and let the car coast to a stop. As with other breakdowns, the car must then be secured with a warning triangle. What happens next depends on whether the car has a full-size spare wheel, an emergency wheel or just a puncture kit on board, or whether it is running on runflat tires.

Flat tires: advantages and disadvantages of different tires

The best summer tires from the ADAC test

Show tread. The summer tires from the 2021 test. © ADAC / wolfgang grube

ADAC has tested the summer tires for 2021. 205/55 R16 ("golf class") and 225/50 R17 tires performed predominantly well and satisfactorily. However, there were also some outliers on the downside, including a retreaded.

Choosing the right tire

The rubber compound and tread pattern of summer tires should achieve different things: good braking performance, long service life, quiet driving noise, low fuel consumption. The problem is that these goals cannot always be achieved at the same time. A soft tire brakes well, a hard tire lasts longer. Some profiles are quieter, others lead to lower fuel consumption.

If you drive a lot of miles a year, you’ll pay more attention to mileage. if you’re primarily concerned with protecting the environment, you’ll pay more attention to fuel consumption. The most important factor is, of course, that the braking distance and handling on dry and wet roads meet the safety standard.

205/55 R16: the tires of the golf class

15 current models of the best-selling tire size in Germany, 205/55 R16, were tested by the ADAC in this year’s summer tire test. The models in front were evenly matched continental premiumcontact 6 (unit price 94 euro) and semperit speed-life 3 (76 euro).

The continental braked very well on wet and dry roads, but was mediocre at best in terms of fuel consumption and mileage (grade 2.5). And it is a bit loud. The semperit, on the other hand, is well-balanced in its performance and brakes superbly on wet roads. It is also somewhat quieter than the continental, uses less fuel and is less expensive to buy.

Goodyear runs longest, kumho is most economical

With a predicted mileage of 53,000 kilometers, the goodyear efficientgrip performance 2 for 89 euro the longest – twice as long as the last in this discipline, the nokian wetproof (71 euro). The test winners continental and semperit are in the middle of the field here with around 34,000 and 33,000 kilometers respectively. The goodyear brakes well, but performs only satisfactorily on dry roads. The low-priced tire needs the least fuel kumho ecsta HS51 (71 euros) from korea. It brakes decently and also has a low level of wear.

The retread could be more renewed

The retread is even more ecological than the kumho ecsta king meiler sport 1 for a mere 42 euros, because here an old tire has been given a new tread and therefore only needs a little new rubber. However, its braking distance is long and especially on wet roads it shows only moderate performance. This makes it the only tire in this size class that only gets an adequate rating.

225/50 R17: tires for mid-range cars

This tire size is suitable for the mercedes C-class or the VW passat, for example. This year, the ADAC tested the speed class Y up to 300 km/h. The test winner was the falken azenis FK510 (118 euros), closely followed by the continental premiumcontact 6 (148 euro) and the kumho ecsta PS71 (108 euro).

The falken is a balanced tire with good braking distance and handling even in the wet. For this tire class, it is quite quiet, but needs a little more fuel than the average. The otherwise good continental, on the other hand, is quite noisy, but ensures low fuel consumption. The kumho shines on wet roads, it is the loudest of the three tires, in fuel consumption it is in the middle. All three models impress with high mileage performance.

High mileage, low price

Meanwhile, the longest rolling tire in the 225 test field is the michelin primacy 4. With a unit price of 154 euros, however, it is quite expensive. In addition, it has slight weaknesses on wet roads. The second cheapest tire in the test field at 96 euros is the esa+tecor spirit pro. It has weaknesses on dry roads, drives well on wet roads and has almost as high mileage as the michelin.

The cheapest tire with 90 euros is the runenn S-fit EQ+ LK01. The price advantage is offset, however, by disadvantages: the handling on wet roads and the fuel consumption. The best in the test point fuel consumption, the viking protech newgen (100 euros), on the other hand, shows weaknesses in handling on dry and wet roads.

Significant differences in braking distance

To brake down from 80 km/h to 0 on a wet road, the best in this discipline – semperit, continental and falken – need around 33 meters. the viking and barum take around 39 meters, the firestone even more than 41 meters. Who stands with the semperit already, has with the firestone still zirka 40 km/h on it. The semperit speed-life 3 (126 euro) has the best braking performance on wet roads, but shows weaknesses in dry conditions. The firestone roadhawk not only brakes relatively poorly, it also receives a poor rating on wet roads.

Conflict of aims with transporter tires

Minibus and car on the road on the tire test track. © ISP wolfgang grube

For the first time in 2019, ADAC had tested tires of size 215/65 R16 C. 16 models from 96 to 153 euros a piece. Category C is mainly used in the commercial sector for vans (the C stands for commercial or cargo). An example would be the ford transit. But camping cars or vans such as the volkswagen T6 ("bully") or people carriers such as the mercedes vito can also use such tires.

Vans often drive a lot of kilometers a year. That is why high mileage is desired for the tires. This obviously leads to a conflict of objectives: in the test, grip on wet roads was satisfactory five times, sufficient twice and poor nine times. The ADAC testers criticized long braking distances and unstable lateral control.

Big differences in mileage

Differences in mileage account for tens of thousands of kilometers in practice. The best van tire in this category is the sava trenta 2. It was only ready for a tire change after 80,000 kilometers, but it pays for this with poor braking performance on wet roads.

The second place winner goodyear efficientgrip cargo still gets nearly 60,000 with much better driving performance, the fuel-saving continental contivancontact 200 on a good 40 000, test winner and best on dry roads apollo altrust only a good 30,000 kilometers. For this, the apollo brakes a van from 80 km/h to zero in 47 meters. With the sava, the car only stops after about 55 meters. And with a car tire instead of a van tire, it would be under 40 meters.

The complete table can be found on the ADAC website: test 2019: summer tires 215/65 R16 C

Evaluation criteria in the ADAC test

The most important test point, with a 40 percent share of the overall score, was "driving and braking on wet roads including aquaplaning". "behavior on dry roads" and "wear" each accounted for 20 percent of the test score, while "noise (inside and outside)" and "fuel consumption" each accounted for 10 percent. The fuel consumption is determined when driving at a constant 100 km/h. In terms of wear and tear, only 15,000 kilometers are driven. From this, the remaining mileage is extrapolated until the tread wears down to the legal minimum tread depth of 1.6 millimeters.

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