/ Winter road access

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J Whittaker - on 04 Nov 2017
Bit of a newbie question here since the only Scottish winter ive been up for was the no show of 2016/17.

Is it wise to have a set of snow chains with me or will winter tyres generally see me right?

Whats the crack with the snow gates, are you allowed through if you have chains?
Simonfarfaraway - on 04 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:
winter tyres should see you 'right'...! Even though last winter was poor so mine weren't particularly needed, when I lived in NW England I got through some pretty crazy winter conditions in the Lakes and Scotland with them the last 3 winters. Never had to use chains in the UK.... and I think the snow gates stay shut +/- chains (but don't really know on this!)
Post edited at 22:04
Mountain Llama on 04 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

Just used normal tyres for Glencoe, Fort William and Aviemore over last 10 years or so. When snow gates shuts that's it, unless you're a snow plough

Davey
girlymonkey - on 04 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

I have used chains twice in Scotland, both times on the Ben Lawers road. I only have them because I worked in the alps, so do carry them when conditions are snowy but never really expect to use them. Winter tyres are apparently better when temps are below 7 degrees, so even in a wash out winter I still put them on. (Get spare rims from the scrappy so that you can change them yourself rather than pay a garage each time)
Stuart en Écosse - on 04 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

Winter tyres every time, better for cold temps, not just the three or four days you might have to drive on snow. It is surprising how good they are. Google snowsocks, they are much easier to use than chains, I always carry them in winter as a get out of jail card, though only needed them in 2009, they worked a treat. If the snowgates are closed then so is the road.

J Whittaker - on 05 Nov 2017
In reply to Stuart en Écosse:

Cheers for the replies. Ill be putting winters on anyway soon-ish, sounds like chains are overkill for Scotland.
Fiona Reid - on 05 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

Winter tyres and a pair of snow socks for us. We're often in remote areas in winter so the snow socks can help get you back to the main road, get our of the car park etc.
Doug on 05 Nov 2017
In reply to Fiona Reid:

Only time I used snow chains in Scotland was to get from my garage out to the main road (owned them as I had previously lived in France). But kept them in the boot, along with a shovel 'just in case' each winter.
climber666 on 05 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

Winter tyres and 4wd will get anywhere.
Clearance essential.
Ben Sharp - on 05 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:
Agree with the other comments that winter tyres will see you through most winters, I pulled a citroen van up coire cas in a ford focus with winter tyres on a few years ago and they were just cheapies. Have a look at cooper weather masters, great tyres and I got about 20k out of them and there's still 3mm tread left. I've used chains a couple of
times, mostly to get off b roads after getting snowed in. One winter staying at Culra bothy we got back to the car park and there was 2 foot of snow blocking us in, unfortunately I'd parked on a slope and trying to move just inched us further towards the ditch. Took 12 hours to get rescued because the aa were so busy, chains would have got us out no problem - as would more thoughtful parking but you live and learn.

I believe snow gates are just shut and that's it unfortunately, for those of us with 4x4's its a pita to get "stuck" because someones put a bloody locked gate in your way, you can often make your way around them on b roads but the diversion is rarely worth it especially in the highlands where it means travelling half way around the country to find a different route.
Post edited at 09:07
Andy Nisbet - on 05 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

Another vote for winter tyres and no chains, unless you want to go up small private roads. The Council shut roads even when you could get up with chains.
BnB - on 05 Nov 2017
In reply to Andy Nisbet:

> Another vote for winter tyres and no chains, unless you want to go up small private roads. The Council shut roads even when you could get up with chains.

I live up a small private road high in the wintry Pennines. I can assure anyone who's listening that good quality snow tyres make chains utterly redundant. And that's with a succession of rear wheel driven cars.
Grizza on 05 Nov 2017
Many trips up to Scotland in all conditions, slush, snow & ice in N England - agree, decent snow/winter tyres will get a normal road car as far as you can get it (i.e. when the show's deeper than your sump, you're stuck!).
N.B. distinguish winter or all-season tyres from 'proper' snow tyres with snowflake symbol, mountain symbol, etc (check this, I can't remember right now).
Have snow socks, but never needed them.
Road closed sign or closed gate = you're not going anywhere any time soon.

J Whittaker - on 05 Nov 2017
In reply to Grizza:

Im in a van so ive got pretty good clearance, im probably going to get some BF Goodrich all terrains on it.
Wee Davie - on 05 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:
I've never had winter tyres before but I'm thinking they're probably a good investment. I really enjoy driving in snow. I remember in the baltic Winter of around '95 going from Loch Lomond all the way up the A82 in 6" of fresh snow the whole way to Fort William to go snowboarding. Fiat Panda 1000- no other cars on the road. The only time I've ever had to turn back was trying to do a high pass from Dufftown towards Aberdeen around 2000 ish.

Post edited at 22:37
nufkin - on 05 Nov 2017
In reply to Grizza:

> N.B. distinguish winter or all-season tyres from 'proper' snow tyres with snowflake symbol, mountain symbol, etc

Out of curiosity, the tyres that make the winter traffic in Olso sound like it's all going over bubble wrap are a different things again, right? Can you even get those over here?
Ron Walker - on 05 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

I live at one of the the highest passes at Slochd (400 metres) on the old A9 and have rarely needed snow chains on my Citroen Berlingo, as long as I have front snow tyres and a shovel.

As I live on a back road I generally have to drive on fresh or compacted for several months of the winter and as long as I accelerate slowly, turn and brake carefully I generally don't have a problem unless the snow is so deep that it builds up and lifts the car.

Forgive the swearing but a wee video from eight years ago will give you the idea, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ac2CGnvZaIo
J Whittaker - on 05 Nov 2017
In reply to Ron Walker:

Those are the kind of scenes we want to be seeing this winter!
Name Changed 34 - on 06 Nov 2017
In reply to nufkin:

Its the studs that make the sound
planetmarshall on 06 Nov 2017
In reply to BnB:

> I live up a small private road high in the wintry Pennines. I can assure anyone who's listening that good quality snow tyres make chains utterly redundant. And that's with a succession of rear wheel driven cars.

I also live up a small private road high in the Pennines. I can assure anyone who's listening that good quality snow tyres do not make chains utterly redundant, the latter being occasionally useful in severe conditions. And that's with a 4x4.
BnB - on 06 Nov 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
> I also live up a small private road high in the Pennines. I can assure anyone who's listening that good quality snow tyres do not make chains utterly redundant, the latter being occasionally useful in severe conditions. And that's with a 4x4.

Snow chains are effective if irritating. Hard to install and hobbling of speed. Imagine having to cross Rannoch Moor at 15mph. But I'm surprised you've have difficulties with snow tyres requiring their implementation. Do your tyres have the M&S symbol? The snow has to be drifted too high for clearance before my snow-tyre clad cars have struggled. And these are the makes most notoriously ill-suited to winter driving.
Post edited at 07:50
Stuart en Écosse - on 06 Nov 2017
In reply to BnB:

> And these are the makes most notoriously ill-suited to winter driving.

I hear this a lot, from experts who read it on the internet or heard it from someone who heard it from someone....
The New NickB - on 06 Nov 2017
In reply to Stuart en Écosse:

> I hear this a lot, from experts who read it on the internet or heard it from someone who heard it from someone....

I see a lot of them struggling at the first sight of snow, maybe they are just popular with bad drivers.
planetmarshall on 06 Nov 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

> I see a lot of them struggling at the first sight of snow, maybe they are just popular with bad drivers.

Anecdotally I'd say most drivers are pretty bad, if by bad you mean driving at inappropriate speed for the conditions. If snow chains hobble speed then maybe that's a good thing - it might stop a few people tearing up the Nevis Range access road at 40mph, with only modern technology preventing close calls becoming serious accidents.

Winter tyres are great, but they don't make you immune from the common delusion that it's driving skill that keeps you on the road, and not decades of engineering improvements. I always have a pair of chains in the back during the winter months, just in case.
barry donovan - on 06 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

The chains thing. They are the only way if the weather is unpredictable and you don't want to drive around Watford with clunky winter tyres on looking like a lost polar explorer.
The question is do you live there or drive to it ?
Chains take practice in the dry - then more practice - then a tiny bit more practice - then shovel in the boot - something to kneel on -gloves handy - torch - and a bit more practice - then reread the instructions as a last resort and follow them line by line. They are a minefield to fit if they are the wrong size for the wheel and tyres.
Once the skill in fitting is there they go on quick and solid.
On sheet ice they bite down to the road surface. But the handling on a front wheel drive car turns into a tail happy rear wheel feel because the chains glue the front wheels in place (a surprise when it happens first time). Always check the fit on a hire car in the car park at the airport when you arrive so you don't find out they're wrong in a blizzard two hours later.
Jim 1003 - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

All terrain tyres are not nearly as good in snow as a snow tyres with sips.
Martin W on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to Name Changed 34:

> Its the studs that make the sound

And they're illegal in the UK.
Name Changed 34 - on 10 Nov 2017
In reply to Martin W:

might be a speed restriction of 30MPH but dont know that illegal is correct
I have had them fitted and passed MOT;s in uk
AND they are awesome
Ronbo - on 15 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

Ive got snow tyres and carry chains in winter, the tyres are able to cope with most things, but I have had a few moments where I have been stuck in inconvenient remote car parks with no phone signal so the chains have really saved the day.
Likewise I have been able to descend slopes where I might have crashed the car and caused far far more damage than the cost of the chains - so I look at them as an insurance policy. Only used them once in the past 2 years and I drive a rear wheel drive BMW estate.
Andy Nisbet - on 16 Nov 2017
In reply to Ronbo:

> I drive a rear wheel drive BMW estate.

That's the big difference, compared to a small front wheel drive car, which would be much better in the snow.

doz on 16 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

I find socks on my donkey's feet work best
Martin W on 16 Nov 2017
In reply to Name Changed 34:

> might be a speed restriction of 30MPH but dont know that illegal is correct

> I have had them fitted and passed MOT;s in uk

From http://www.etyres.co.uk/uk-tyre-law/ :

If a tyre causes damage to the road, persons or any vehicle using the road it is deemed illegal. Instances include the use of studded tyres in inappropriate conditions and oversized tyres catching against a person or other vehicle resulting in either damage or injury.

Basically, any time there isn't a covering of snow or ice on the road, use of studded tyres would be illegal because of the damage they cause. I doubt there's many places in the UK, if any, where you could drive an entire journey on public roads with a covering of snow or ice, apart from immediately after a heavy fall.

I suspect it's not an MOT fail because it's use damaging the road that is illegal, not simply having them fitted. Here is a list of what an MOT tester is supposed to check:

MOT Test of Tyres

Interior

A tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) warning lamp must be operative and not indicating a fault in the system
(On vehicles first used on or after 1st January 2012).

Tyre condition
The reason for failure with respect to tyre wear is:
"The grooves of the tread pattern are not at least 1.6mm throughout a continuous band comprising: the central three-quarters of the breadth of tread around the entire outer circumference of the tyre".

Tyres must be correctly matched with regard to:

Type
Size
Structure
Fitted in accordance with tyre sidewall markings – eg direction of rotation or ‘outside’ in case of asymmetric tyres.
NB. type or structure but not both.

Tyres on the same axle must be of the same structure and size.
Also examined:

General condition of tyre
Condition of valve
Tyres fail if they have serious cuts, bulges or other damage.
The wear on the tyre is checked with a tyre tread depth gauge to ensure compliance.
The tyres are examined to ensure that there is no fouling with any part of the vehicle, unless part of the steering mechanism design.

Notes:
1. Although under-inflation is not in itself a reason for failure (on vehicles on which the TPMS test is applicable, if a fault is indicated by the TPMS then that will be a fail), a brake test may be inadvisable because of possible damage, and it may affect headlamp alignment. The condition of the spare tyre is not part of the MOT.
2. From 2012, Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) will form part of the MOT Test. Vehicles on which TPMS was originally fitted will have to have it fully operable. When this test is implemented one faulty sensor will result in a fail.

Wheel condition

Damage
Distortion
Cracks
Distorted bead rim
Securely attached to the vehicle
No wheel nuts or studs missing
An externally fitted spare wheel or spare wheel carrier must not be so insecure that it is likely to fall off.


From http://www.motester.co.uk/mot-general-information/mot-information-for-motorists/mot-test-checks-list...
Martin W on 16 Nov 2017
In reply to barry donovan:

> The chains thing. They are the only way if the weather is unpredictable and you don't want to drive around Watford with clunky winter tyres on looking like a lost polar explorer.

I suspect you have little or no idea what a winter tyre looks like. They do not look like the knobbly all terrain tyres that some 4x4 owners like to run. A lot of the time you'd be hard pressed to tell a winter from a summer tyre without looking for the three peaks + snowflake symbol, unless you spotted the sipes in the tread.

Chains are best kept as an emergency reserve, eg to get you out of a car park that's snowed up heavily while you've been on the hill. The vast majority of the time a winter tyre is all you need.

And winter tyres aren't just for snow and ice: they're more effective than summer tyres below 7°C (like it is here on the outskirts of Edinburgh right now, in fact) and when the road surface is covered in water. The difference in grip on a wet winter road between a winter and summer tyre is remarkable.

I actually ran my winter tyres all through last summer. No they didn't fall apart or head for the nearest ditch as soon as the temperature went over 7°, that's a myth. I was actually trying to wear them out a bit so I could get a new set for this winter, since they're close to needing to be replaced due to age anyway (though having been stored indoors in the dark half the year before that, they're not suffering any weather or UV degradation). Damn things seem to be wearing better than the summer tyres, though!
Flinticus - on 16 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

Also consider other road users and the chance you will be stuck behind them.

Keep your fuel tank full as you can as you could be running the heater for a long time. Also keep something to eat and drink if stuck.

Don't drive much in the snow (too many poor drivers on the road) but have been stuck along the A82 for 7 hrs on a snowed in road with jack knifed trucks and buses blocking progress.
Lion Bakes on 17 Nov 2017
In reply to J Whittaker:

Winter tyres are the nuts. Driving in the Alps in winter and not needing to stop to put chains on is a Godsend.

Name Changed 34 - on 17 Nov 2017
In reply to Martin W:

> And they're illegal in the UK.

You have attached some links and some cut and paste.
Confessing I have only glanced yours is in no way supporting your earlier coment on legally It states spsce savers as not being legal over xx mph however it (a web page with self imposed righteous) and not UK law is not saying they are illegal. And the same for studs under the conditions
Furthermore. It is open in wording talking of conditions.
In summary thanks for the input but I am far from persuaded. And mantane stud are fab


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