Tyres, safety issues/legal requirements etc

As it happens Catharine also needs a new set of tyres for her Alhambra, did you buy in the end Graham?

Meant Bristol RWD of course! All 5.2 litres!

I went once to Les Arcs, Arc 1800, the car shod with recent winter tyres. It had been snowing all day, but the roads were really only slushy. At the bottom of the hill after Bourg St Maurice it was still just slushy, but there were large numbers of cars in the chaining zones dutifully fitting their chains. I has some in the car, but I drove on. Every so often we passed cars stopped to put on chains, and the slush turned soon to snow. We drove on. Then past another massive chaining zone, also full of cars, and we drove on. Arriving in Arc 1800 I was still having no difficulty at all in going up hill and in controlling the car. To say I was impressed is an understatement. And there, right at the top of the hill, at the entry to the car park, a British BMW 320 estate stopped with a warning triangle and a snapped chain wrapped around everything.

I clearly remember the winter day in Kent when I took out my Healey 3000 on the snow for a bit of a burn when in a series of corners one snow chain snapped off and wrapped itself round the axle. Interesting moment but car undamaged. Same car another good moment when at a certain speed just about to overtake a lorry on an Mway it pulled out without warning and I was obliged to chuck out the anchors causing a 360 degree spin. We glid to a halt just clipping the armco with the knockon hubs- but no damage! Most of my cars since, save a stately but fun Bristol FWD, have been FWD or 4WD. RWD and real drifting were fun on an open road with no traffic about but that scarcely happens in the UK.

I think "motoring" is too expensive now not to have some fun. Bouncing off the odd drift for example :-)

Or even a classic Delta integrale.

This just landed in my inbox, free home fitting on certain tyres


I've never driven a FWD vehicle before coming to France, and I was sure that my toyotas and VWs were just "the business" as far as handling went.... I bought a kangoo last spring, and I have to say... it's different... I,too, like playing in the snow, and ice.... did the ice driving stages on the track at Abondance, it was sheer joy, sliding around, learning to control different vehicles.

Yes, I guess things like ESP will help to an extent, but once you pass a certain point you're toast. Like Zoe said with her ABS, sometimes the aids contribute to the danger.

Perhaps the solution would be that Debbie buy a Nissan GTR. :-)

Thanks for the links Ian. I think I understand now. It'd not about maximising grip, it's about crashing at a lower speed :-) I was involved in motor sport when I was a kid and I've still got a little 1970 1293 rally prepared Cooper S that I blast around our local roads in. Generally you can accelerate out of trouble in a FWD so I like my grip at the front. I think this "better grip to the rear thing" is a good safety idea especially for folk that aren't too used to handling a car in the wet (or icy) conditions. It means if they loose grip it'll be understeer as you say, the car won't swap ends and it will all happen at a lower speed. Ideal for a shopping run but not much fun. I wonder if it's still relevant with stability control on so many cars now? Of course the right solution is to rotate your tyres regardless..

Depends on RWD or FWD drive Zoe. For FWD I'd always go for the front but RWD for the rear where the torque is going to put the most stress on the tread.

in my working life as a mechanic, it was always new to front for lighter more positive steering, next best to rear, and next best to spare.. or, to rotate all equally once a year.. now with uni-directional tyres or no spare.. and 4wd that's out of the window.. tail end slides are a by product of poor driving, poor surface conditions or avoidance situations and not normal daily expectaion going to asda ?.. my cavalier SRi was sideways downhill in snow at the slightest touch of the brakes, even with perfect tyres.. scarey.. and soonest rid of.. and yes Ian, possibly the brake limiter had a fault, i changed many on mini's in my time..

if you lock out on the brakes your in shtuck.. not much chance to recover from it?.. ABS keeps the wheel rotating by a percentage, giving some possibility of retaining or finding grip.. if your ABS kicks in, it's only responding to adverse surface conditions.. or lousy driving?

it was also said that you need to "run in" new tyres for a good few miles, to break the factory smoothness, take it easy on corners for a few days until the grip improves?

Oh they fitted the tyres....I went to the experts ;-) ....Always a sucker for a good advert! Looking on legifrance code de la route I've been unable to find anything about replacement tyres and where they should be fitted. So i'm guessing there isn't a law per se about it. Spoke with my son who has just done and passed his big motor bike test and he said that the tyres with the most tread have to be fitted on the rear. I said is this from the highway code and he said he didn't know but maybe? He also said Good luck with getting tyre fitters to do anything for free!...I love a challenge

Billy, it's not the case that you need the best grip at the front. The web sites cited and the video show why that is not the case. I imagine that in certain circumstances, such as for example driving up a snowy road in a front-drive car, it could be better to have your best gripping tyres at the front. However you're then potentially going to have difficulties coming down again, and in all the other situations where the rear of the car is liable to slide.

I did skid training in Scotland many years ago, and it was striking how much easier it is to control a front-wheel skid than a rear. Which meant, naturally, that playing in the rear drive jelly mould Sierra with bald over-inflated tyres was shedloads of fun. :-)

I frequently annoy my wife in the car by provoking small skids and slides in snowy conditions. I do that to test the limits, and to refresh my knowledge of what it feels like not just in a skid, but immediately before a tricky situation becomes a skid.

Good, I hope so too.

They really shouldn't charge at all, especially if they fitted the tyres. Swapping front to back takes 5 minutes for a garage.

But again, how strange that these French web sites that you found are also diametrically opposed to the advice of the Code de la Route.

My son is studying it at the moment, I'll need to ask him to watch out for that question.

Debbie you said it had rained heavy for the first time in months; it is possible (only possible, you would need to have been trying hard) that the roads were the culprit due to deposited rubber and dust on there surface becoming slippery like ice when wet. It happens.

Hi just read this far so it may be answered before now ..... But, Ian the steering on a front wheel drive car is better if you have more grip on the front, hence new tyres should be on the front not the rear. You control any skid to a front wheel drive car by keeping a little throttle on to allow the tyres to turn and steer. Whereas on a rear wheel drive car it is better to have the best grip on the rear axle and skids are controlled by totally lifting off the throttle and steering into the skid, i.e. if the back is sliding to the right then turn gently to the right until grip is re-established. That is the general rule. Most people when a car starts to skid stamp on the brakes and whoosh off the road you go. (Been there, done that).

It is strange, but I get it wrong every time, because I'm going against me own way of doing things.

We disable the ABS in winter, because on our Hilux, it makes stopping dangerous...as soon as the ABS cuts in, we just continue rolling/skating/rolling/skating, andh ave actually went straight onto roundabouts, and broken stop signs with this... once it's disabled, on snow and ice, the car stops when we want it to stop.
Then again, we're both avid adventure seekers, and don't have that nasty habit of braking harder once the car loses adherence.

Ian thank you. Yes that is exactly what happened. So when I go tomorrow I need to make sure they suggest putting the new tyres on the back and if they don't I need to get them to do it. I wonder how much they will charge me for that?

Pneus online say the same.......http://www.pneus-online.fr/bien-changer-ses-pneus-conseils.html

and on Norauto

Faut-il toujours monter ses pneus neufs à l'arrière ?

Oui, et ce pour deux raisons :

  • Sécuritaire : en positionnant vos pneufs neufs à l’arrière, vous optimisez la tenue de route du train arrière et éviterez de partir en « tête à queue ».
  • Economique : les pneus s’usent généralement moins vite à l’arrière. En montant vos pneus neufs à l’arrière, vous optimisez leur durée de vie !
  • I think I've found my smoking gun :-) Thank you so much for the pointers.