Winter tires in Norway: When and how should you make the switch?

If the roads look like this, it might be time to switch to winter tires! Photo: Selmas Adomonis on Unsplash
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As a driver in Norway, it can be confusing to wrap your head around summer and winter tires, as well as when they should be used. But fear not – we have done the research so you don’t have to!

There is no official requirement for changing tires each winter across Norway – but it’s necessary to have tires that reflect the driving conditions. Where the climate requires it, winter tires with or without stud and chains may be necessary. So, in a country that often sees snow and ice in the colder months, winter tires are a de facto rule.

In a place as expansive as Norway, the climate varies greatly from South to North. This can make it difficult to understand exactly when, how, and where to swap the summer tires for the sturdier winter tires.

It also puts a lot of responsibility on the driver. If you are confused about what conditions require what tires, you have come to the right place!

Specific requirements

There are requirements for specific tires used while driving in Norway.

For summer tires, it is required that they have a tread depth of at least 1.6 mm, although the Norwegian Automobile Federation (NAF) recommends that the pattern depth should be at least 3 mm. On winter tires, the requirement for tread depth is 3 mm, although NAF recommends that you have a minimum of 4 mm on cars weighing less than 3,500 kilos, according to Storebrand.

From October 16 to May 1, drivers should hit the road only if they have studded tires in Nordland and Troms og Finnmark. In the rest of the country, the corresponding dates are November 1 to the first Monday after the second day of Easter.

The Northern parts of Norway have slightly different rules due to the Arctic climate. Pictured is Tromsø, Norway. Photo: Nazreen Banu / Unsplash

Keep in mind that in Oslo, Trondheim, and Bergen, you will need to pay an environmental fee for studded tires. This is either paid per the number of days you use the car, per month, or per season. It can be paid via parking machines or a separate app. If you fail to show a valid wafer when asked for it – you risk paying a fine.

For vehicles over 3500 kilos, the rules are a bit different. The minimum tread depth must be above 3/4 of the tread width and around the circumference of the tire. Both motor vehicles and trailers must have a tread depth of at least five millimeters in the period from November 1 to the first Monday after the second day of Easter. In Nordland and Troms og Finnmark, this applies in the period October 15 to April 30. Between November 15 and March 31, clean winter tires on vehicles over 3500 kilos of permissible total weight are required.

So when should change your tires?

Most experts recommend that you make sure to have changed to winter tires well before the snowfall comes. To do this, it is important to pay attention to the weather forecasts.

It is advised that the air should have been cool for a while, and long-term weather forecasts should show stable temperatures before you make the switch from summer to winter tires, according to Superdekk. In general, it is a good idea to change from summer to winter tires when the temperatures are steadily below 7 degrees celsius. Following steady weather as a rule of thumb also applies after the winter, when one is looking into changing to summer tires.

In terms of what insurance will cover if an accident should occur, drivers are allowed to be ‘surprised’ by the first snowfall. This is because, as we all know, weather reports can be very unpredictable at times!

Problems will occur, however, if one chooses to drive with summer tires after the first snowfall. In general, it is always best to change your tires before winter comes in order to avoid any nasty surprises.

How is it done?

For all our handy readers out there, it is possible to change the tires yourself. There are plenty of tutorials online, and it can certainly be a good idea to know these things if you are ever in a situation where a tire change is necessary but no professionals are around!

A lot of people, however, choose to leave the changing of tires up to professionals. This way, you are guaranteed that the job is done properly and safely. There are plenty of retailers offering this service, such as Dekkmann and Dekk1, but chances are that there is at least one local retailer near wherever you find yourself in Norway.

Winter tires don’t fare well at high temperatures and on wet asphalt. Photo: Tord Sollie on Unsplash

Can’t I just use studless winter tires all year round?

Although this might seem tempting considering there are no rules restricting the use of studless winter tires, it’s unfortunately not a good solution in practice.

Winter tires are made of a rubber that wears out faster and has worse driving characteristics at higher temperatures and on wet asphalt, according to Dekk1. They will therefore not have the same stability or breaking ability as they do on winter roads.

This is why it is essential to have two sets of tires for your car depending on the season, and why it’s always recommended to follow weather reports in determining the right time to change from summer to winter tires.

Note: This article is meant to provide basic information on winter tires in Norway. For detailed safety information, refer to the Norwegian authorities.

Source: #NorwayTodayTravel

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