Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Snow help me, if I have to buy winter tires...

As someone who's from a northern state, I'm quite well versed in driving in snow...and ice...and slush...and a combination of all three. When I was researching the western edge of Germany where I'll be moving, I looked at snowfall averages and winter temperatures and was pleased to find out that the climate is a bit more mild than where I am currently living. It appears that they get snow but not as much as we do here, which sounds good to me.

I learned that there are some strict German laws on the tires that one uses (is this a surprise? There are definitely a lot of German laws and regulations to shift through for everything, pretty much :), especially for winter tires. The most important rule is that in conditions of snow and/or ice, the car must have either winter tires or (all season) tires marked with M+S (mud and snow). Failure to have such tires can result in a ticket. Apparently there is a saying that one should use winter tires “von Oktober bis Ostern” (from October to Easter), as a rule of thumb, to account for the snow season. The winter tires marked with a snowflake are highly suggested but the all season tires marked with M+S are also acceptable.

While researching this, I decided that I would just get the all season tires to avoid the expense of buying one set of tires for snow and one set for the rest of the year. I felt confident in my decision. Why buy extra tires if they're not needed? I'm a northerner and I *know* snow. I was given immediate pause when someone who had moved to Germany from a state farther north than I where I live said that she wished she had bought winter tires. What?! Oh no. If someone from a place with a lot of snow is saying that winter tires are recommended, then that makes me think I'll need them. I couldn't really figure out why, if the area doesn't get a huge amount of snow, the tires would be needed. I was told that it's hilly there and that the roads don't get plowed/salted much. 

So, is this true? Is it hard to get around? How has it been to get around with or without snow tires? How often do you get stuck? Are the roads really not maintained when it snows?

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