Car tyres, are well-important. They are the things that attach your car to the road, which is key to making sure it goes in the direction you want when you turn the steering wheel.
Most tyres do what you want most of the time. Which is fine if you only drive "most of the time" but you don't.
In the UK you drive when it's hot and when it's cold, when it's wet and when it's dry. Often you will drive in all of these conditions in the same week. Probably even in the same day.
In LA. It rains twice a year and on those two days everyone crashes their cars on the freeway. This seems ludicrous to the British who think they are well adjusted to the rain but the French and the Germans feel just the same way about us when it snows.
Half a CM of snow and the UK roads shut down. Those that try to carry on are doomed to drive their cars into other peoples cars or off the road and into trees. At best, they will freeze to death stuck in enormous traffic jams. Mercy!
Tyres play a huge part in a cars behaviour. Its handling and versatility are enormously affected by the tyres on its wheels.
This isn't something that only car nerds need to know about either, it is something that affects every car driver. Renault Twingo or Range Rover
Incidentally a Twingo with winter tyres will go up hills a Range Rover wearing summers has no hope with.
Car tyres are designed to hit a sweet spot on the grip scale. They need to provide enough grip to move the car forward, let it change direction and come to a total stop - but without being so sticky that they hold the car back.
The compounds that exist today can only hit that spot within certain temperature ranges. When it's too hot, they're too sticky and when it's too cold they're not sticky enough - which is the only time you notice because you drive into the back of someone and blame the weather.
Winter tyres are designed to hit the sweet spot below 7degrees c.
Yes that's right, at only 7C, your summer tyres are already being owned by winters which are made out of a compound that stays rubbery in the cold.
They do have a deeper tread and extra bits in the pattern that deal with water way more effectively. so its not just about the compound, but winter tyre performance at 7C and below makes using summers in the winter look dangerous.
In Switzerland, France and Germany - they're a legal requirement - and not just because of the snow.
Speaking of which, the number one reaction when I say I use winter tyres in the UK is "but it only snows one day a year" - true, but it's wet and cold for over half the year and it doesn't cost any more because I'm saving the wear on the summers.. so why wouldn't you?
Feel your summer tyres when it's chilly. They're like plastic skateboard wheels rock hard. In contrast a winter tyre still feels squidgy like it should. It's no wonder you can drive more confidently in cold conditions with a winter.