The end of October often sees the first drop in temperatures and occasionally the first fall of snow. It is time to prepare your car for the cold season and attend to the matter of winter tyres before hitting the roads on your way to your lovely chalet in the Swiss Alps!
Winter tyres are not required by law
Strictly speaking, there is no law requiring the fitting of winter tyres in Switzerland. If you happen to be pulled over at a police checkpoint, you won’t get fined because you are driving without them. However, should there be an accident or a traffic obstruction because the tyres were not fit for driving in winter, the costs could turn out to be considerable. So even though they are not actually required by law, if you want to keep in your insurance company’s good books, then it’s wise to get the correct tyres.
The law states that a vehicle must be safe to drive and operate. A car therefore needs to be fitted with winter tyres to not present a danger on the road. If the temperature drops below 7°C, these tyres have a better grip than summer or all-season tyres due to their special soft rubber compound. On a slippery surface, the braking distance with summer tyres can be twice that with winter tyres.
The accident risk increases when you drive without winter tyres on roads covered with snow or ice. If something happens, the lack of safe tyres could be seen as the cause of the accident. This means that the insurance company may not cover the full cost of the damage or may even take action against the insured person for negligence.
We therefore advise to have your winter tyres fitted in good time. Since garages in Valais are often quickly booked up during this time, it’s worth arranging an appointment early on. Just remember the October-to-Easter rule that is generally followed in Switzerland. Usually cars get fitted with winter tyres from October to Easter.
- Timing: don’t wait for the first snowfall to get your winter tyres.
- A 4-wheel drive: in winter conditions 4WD cars offer a far better driving experience than a 2WD
- Tread carefully: have the tire shop check your treads to make sure they can handle snow and ice.
- All systems go: ask a mechanic to check your vital systems – wiper blades, fluids, batteries, defrosting and heating systems.
- Check road conditions: this site is an excellent English resource.
- Snow chains: know how to use chains, and make sure yours fit and are on board.
- Pack the right kit: jumper cables, shovel, ice scraper, warm winter clothes, blankets and flashlight.
In case you don’t know if there is a garage in the area near to your chalet or apartment in Valais, please ask our team. We know the garages in the Valais area and will be able to help you further!