Data Sheet

#18 Winter touring in caravans and motorhomes

#18 #18 Winter touring in caravans and motorhomes
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4: Tyres in winter


Tyres in winter

Safety on the road includes having good well-maintained tyres fitted to your unit and tow car and this is never more important than when travelling on wet or icy roads. Ideally during winter months, typically November to March, your motorhome and tow car should be fitted with winter tyres. These tyres are made from a rubber compound designed to avoid hardening as temperatures fall below 7C and so provide better grip on the road in winter.

All-season tyres are a compromise between ‘summer’ (standard tyres) and ‘winter’ tyres. They offer higher grip levels during the warmer months than winter tyres and better grip than summer tyres in the winter months. Often these all-season tyres will be marked with an M+S (mud and snow) symbol indicating they provide higher traction on soft ground and melting snow than standard summer tyre tread patterns.

Tyre winter symbol 2

Winter tyres showing the three peaks and snowflake symbol can improve safety in winter but M+S or all-season tyres can help

Whatever the tyres fitted, tyre experts recommend a minimum of 4mm depth of tread for winter motoring and certainly no less than 3mm, even though the legal minimum limit is 1.6mm. If alternative tyres are fitted, all tyres on the vehicle should be changed.

In the UK most roads are kept passable and relatively free of snow and ice during winter months, but in parts of Europe this is not always the case. In certain countries there are mandatory requirements for the use of snow chains or winter tyres and even a minimum legal tread depth beyond the normal legal minimum. These requirements vary with country and time of year so check with the motoring organisations for details before travelling. In particular note some countries will accept a tyre marked with a M+S symbol as a winter tyre, others will accept a winter tyre only if it shows the symbol of a snow flake and three peaks on the tyre sidewall, indicating it meets a specific level of performance in winter conditions.

Check your tyre pressures and tyre tread depth before starting out. Consider installing a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) to help you monitor tyre pressure and temperature.

General touring tips

  • Have your vehicle serviced regularly – winter conditions can soon show up any weakness in a vehicle
  • Ensure your vehicle engine cooling system contains the correct amount of anti-freeze
  • Increase the concentration of windscreen washer solution to prevent freezing and carry a windscreen scraper and de-icer
  • Check your tyre pressures and tyre tread depth before starting out. Consider installing a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) to help you monitor tyre pressure and temperature
  • Ensure you have sufficient fuel  
  • Include an emergency kit when touring to include a warm blanket, torch, food and drink rations in case of being stranded on the road. Include a mobile phone and charger
    Tread grips and shovel

    Grip mats and a shovel can proof invaluable

  • Soft wet ground or snow can soon maroon a vehicle so include a grip mat and shovel
  • Where possible select a site with hardstanding or reinforced grass pitches
  • Take extra care and time on the journey to allow for bad weather and keeping your speed right down when the temperature drops to near freezing
  • Plan your journey and select major routes wherever possible when snow and ice are forecast. Check traffic updates and take a map for unplanned diversions
  • Before setting off for home, drain off your fresh and waste water systems to ensure your unit is not vulnerable to frost damage when left in storage
  • Do consider having adequate breakdown and recovery services that are suitable for your caravan or motorhome.

 And finally

Motorhome winter sun

Campers enjoying a some of winter sun with the Club

 If this data sheet has not encouraged you to venture out in the depths of winter join many Club members wintering in southern Spain and Portugal. By taking the ferry to Santander in northern Spain you only need risk one cold night in mid Spain before you reach a warmer climate. 

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