The 13 most important questions and answers

What exactly does winter tire duty mean? Which vehicles does it apply to? What are the exceptions? And are all-weather tires allowed in winter? Here you will find the 13 most important answers.

What does the winter tire regulation say?

The situational requirement for winter tires says: In winter conditions, winter tires must be fitted to the car – i.e. when there is frost and ice, snow, slush and ice. Summer tires are then prohibited. If it snows in April, winter tires are necessary. And if it is dry in December, then they are not necessary. However, winter tires are significantly better and safer than summer tires at temperatures of plus 7 degrees.

Which symbol indicates a winter tire?

For a long time, winter tires were identified with an abbreviation such as “M&S” or “M + S” (stands for mud and snow). But not all tires with such an abbreviation are real winter tires. Winter tires manufactured since January 1, 2018 must therefore bear the “Alpine symbol”, which shows a mountain and a snowflake. Tires that only bear the “M&S” abbreviation may still be driven in winter until September 30, 2024.

Motorists: Would you still pass the driver's license test today? (Source: Thinkstock by Getty-Images / stevanovicigor)

What is the fine for violations?

Whoever gets caught with summer tires in winter weather has to pay 60 euros. There is also a point in Flensburg. If you hinder others (for example, because the car remains in traffic), the fine increases to 80 euros. If other road users are endangered, 100 euros are due.

The owner of the vehicle also collects a Flensburg point and pays a fine – and that is 75 euros. The prerequisite is that the owner and driver are not identical. There are also problems with car insurance (see below).

When are new winter tires due?

Legislators prescribe a profile depth of at least 1.6 millimeters. A profile depth of at least four millimeters is recommended. After about six years, an expert should assess whether an older tire is still suitable.

The DO shows how old a tire isT coding on its flank. The last four digits at the end of the DOT coding reveal the date of manufacture. The first two numbers stand for the calendar week, the last two for the year. An example: “0818” means that the tire was manufactured in the eighth calendar week of 2018.

Is there a fixed period for winter tires?

No, because the obligation is situational (see above). There is no general requirement for winter tires. A period such as October to Easter is not mandatory, but is generally recommended.

Are there exceptions to the requirement for winter tires?

On trucks and buses, winter tires are only required for the drive axles. Agricultural and forestry commercial vehicles are completely exempt from the obligation. They usually have tires with a coarse-tread pattern, which are sufficient for operation in winter conditions. Important: This exception does not apply to coarse summer tires for off-road vehicles or quads.

What effects does an accident have on car insurance?

If you drive on summer tires in winter weather and cause an accident as a result, comprehensive insurance can significantly reduce your benefits due to gross negligence. There are also consequences for liability insurance: joint liability may arise.

Does the duty apply to followers?

Trailers do not have to be equipped with winter tires, but the ADAC strongly recommends this.

Does the obligation apply to motorcycles?

Motorcycles are exempt from compulsory winter tires. For one thing, there are hardly any tires on the market that have the appropriate labeling. Secondly, motorcyclists largely leave their bikes in winter anyway.

What applies to a flat tire?

Those who change their car tires after a breakdown and only have one summer tire with them do not have to fear a penalty. The journey may initially be continued carefully. A winter tire must be fitted at the next opportunity.

Can a vehicle with summer tires be parked on the road in winter?

Yes. A corresponding sanction only threatens if the vehicle is also driven.

What applies abroad?

Anyone who violates the obligation to wear winter tires abroad must face high fines: in Austria, in extreme cases, up to 5,000 euros. Cars must have fitted winter tires there from the beginning of November to April 15 in wintry road conditions. The profile depth must be at least four millimeters, in Germany only 1.6 millimeters are required. The standard fine is 35 euros. In the Czech Republic, violations cost up to 92 euros. In France the police collected 135 euros, in Italy 338 euros.

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