Get ready for winter – remember the October to Easter rule!

Irresponsible driving – many drivers are out on the roads with their summer tyres even in the depths of winter. Source: iStock / imagedepotpro

Why do we need winter tyres? Although they are not actually required by law, if you want to keep in your insurance company’s good books, then you would be wise to fit the correct tyres. Driving on summer tyres in autumn and winter can be very costly. comparis.ch explains the rule of thumb generally followed in Switzerland, and explains why temperatures as high as 7°C mean the onset of winter for tyres.

The end of October often sees the first drop in temperatures and occasionally the first fall of snow. It is time to prepare your car for the cold season and attend to the matter of winter tyres.

Winter tyres are not required by law…

Strictly speaking, there is no law requiring the fitting of winter tyres. If you happen to be pulled over at a police checkpoint, you won't get fined because you are driving without them. However, should there be an accident or a traffic obstruction because the tyres were not fit for driving in winter, the costs could turn out to be considerable.

What the law does state is that a vehicle must be safe to drive and operate. In order not to represent a danger on the road, a car therefore needs to be fitted with winter tyres. If the temperature drops below 7°C, these tyres have a better grip than summer or all-season tyres due to their special soft rubber compound. On a slippery surface, the braking distance with summer tyres can be twice that with winter tyres.

… but the insurer may not cover all costs

In other words, the accident risk increases when you drive without winter tyres on roads covered with snow or ice. If something happens, the lack of safe tyres could be deemed the cause of the accident. The driver must then accept that the insurance company may only cover a part of the costs. In the worst-case scenario, the driver may have to cover the full cost of the damage. 

It is therefore advisable to have your winter tyres fitted in good time. Since garages are often quickly booked up during this time, it's worth arranging an appointment early on. Just remember the October-to-Easter rule that is generally followed in Switzerland. Basically, cars should be fitted with winter tyres from October to Easter.

If you also review your car insurance for next year at the same time, you may well save yourself the cost of the next tyre change or even the next set of tyres.