Should winter tires be smaller

Tire widths in winter: prefer narrow or extra wide?

Vehicle manufacturers are increasingly equipping their vehicles with larger and wider tires. With summer tires, this emphasizes the driving dynamics, but how do wide tires perform in winter? The ADAC has tested five tire widths of the Dunlop Winter Sport 5 for the VW Golf for the first time. Result: In aquaplaning, slush and snow-covered roads, the narrower dimension has advantages, on a dry surface the wider one.

Overall, the differences between the five dimensions are smaller than between different models within one dimension, which the ADAC regularly examines in its tire tests. All tires, from very narrow (195/65 R15) to very wide (225/40 R18), achieved an overall rating of “good”; there are no significant differences in performance.

In the individual tests, however, there were differences: narrow tires have advantages when starting off on snow. The lateral guidance when cornering is also better. The risk of aquaplaning in wet conditions and slush is also lower with narrow tires: extra-wide winter tires float much earlier than narrow ones. In the aquaplaning test (water depth 7 mm), the 225 tires lose contact with the road at around 70 kilometers per hour, but the narrow 195 tires only lose contact at well over 80 kilometers per hour. On the other hand, the 195 model shows slight disadvantages on dry roads and abrasion. The wide tire also has advantages in terms of driving safety and steering feel on dry roads.

A positive side effect of narrower tires is the greater driving comfort due to the higher sidewall. Likewise, the cheaper purchase price: In the five dimensions tested, the price between the narrowest and the widest tire was around 85 euros - each. This pays off despite the somewhat higher wear and tear on the narrower tires. In addition, snow chains can usually only be fitted to the narrower tires.

"Regardless of the tire width you choose - a model comparison in our regular tire test is always recommended, because regardless of the size, a good tire is essential for safe progress," emphasizes Dr. Reinhard Kolke, Head of Test and Technology.

Important tip: Before buying a winter tire, it is essential to consult the vehicle manual and identify the correct rim size. Because the rims on which the vehicle was delivered with summer or all-season tires are not always compatible with snow chains.

There is a video on the subject at

You can find the current winter tire test here.


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