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Winter Tyres

The winter conditions in Germany can make the roads dangerous and slippery to drive on.
Winter conditions are for example black ice, slippery snow, slush, slippery ice or frost. (Glatteis, Schneeglätte, Schneematsch, Eis- und Reifglätte).

According to German law (November 2010), you are not allowed to drive without Winter tyres on your vehicle in winter conditions. This makes it a situational requirement (Situative Winterreifenpflicht). – Section 2, Paragraph 3a of the Road Traffic Regulations / § 2 Absatz 3a StVO

When to change to winter tyres

It is hard to say when there will be winter road conditions so most follow the old rule of thumb from October until Östern (O bis O Regel)

How do I identify a winter tyre?

As of January 2018, all new winter tyres can be identified by the Alpine symbol, a mountain pictogram with a snowflake.
In addition, tires with M + S, which stands for mud and snow marking are considered suitable for winter until September 30, 2024, if they have been manufactured by December 31, 2017.
When buying new tyres, make sure they carry the Alpine symbol.



Motorcycles are excluded from this rule, as well as commercial vehicles for agriculture and forestry.
Rental cars are not excluded, always make sure the car has the correct tyres fitted.
If you have a flat tyre, you may replace it with a summer tyre but it must be changed to a winter tyre as soon as possible


Replace tyres after six years at the latest because the rubber will lose its grip in low temperatures after a while.
On the tyres, a minimum residual profile of 1.6 mm is required although 4mm is recommended

All season tyres

If an all-season tyre has the Alpine symbol on it, it can be used in winter and summer. If they don’t they are not allowed to be used in winter. According to many people, it seems that all-season tyres are not optimal for mountainous or hilly areas, see the tips section below.


Anyone who does not use the prescribed tires in winter conditions can be fined at least 60 euros and one point in Flensburg.
Flensburg is a central register of all traffic violations in Germany. Driving offences are assigned a certain number of points.
If you have more than 4 points against your name, various penalties come into effect.
If you have 8 points, you will lose your licence to drive a vehicle


Please refer to your insurance contracts, although driving without winter tyres in Winter conditions, will most likely impact you negatively.

More information

From Busgeldkatalog:

“Die Winterreifenpflicht in der StVO (Straßenverkehrsordnung)

Seit 2010 hält die StVO präzisere Informationen zur Winterreifenpflicht in Deutschland bereit. Das Gesetz schreibt vor: Winterreifen, oder auch Reifen die der Richtlinie 92/23/EWG entsprechen, müssen genutzt werden, wenn „Glatteis, Schneeglätte, Schneematsch, Eis- oder Reifglätte“ vorherrscht (§ 2 Absatz 3a StVO). Dabei war es bis Ende 2017 noch ausreichend, dass Winterreifen mit M+S gekennzeichnet waren.

Seit Januar 2018 gilt: Die Winterreifenpflicht erfüllen neue Winterreifen nur noch, wenn diese das sogenannte Alpine-Symbol aufweisen können. Dieses zeigt sich als dreigezacktes Bergpiktogram mit einer Schneeflocke in der Mitte. Das zuvor ausreichende M+S-Zeichen erfüllt bei neu zum Verkauf stehenden Reifen nicht mehr die gesetzlichen Anforderungen. Es gibt jedoch eine Übergangsregelung bis zum 30. September 2024. Vor 2018 gekaufte Winterreifen mit M+S-Kennzeichnung erfüllen ebenfalls die Winterreifenpflicht, bis zu diesem Tag. Das soll die Verbraucher entlasten, die so nicht sofort Geld in neue Winterreifen stecken müssen.

Mit Bezug auf die Winterreifenpflicht gab es zum Thema Mindestprofiltiefe lange Zeit viele Diskussionen. Fordert der Gesetzgeber auch bei Winterreifen eine Reifenprofiltiefe von 1,6 Millimetern, so geben sich Automobilclubs wie der ADAC erst ab einer Tiefe von vier Millimetern zufrieden. Das Hauptargument dabei: Unter dieser Profiltiefe lassen die Wintereigenschaften der Bereifung stark nach. Der Gesetzgeber hat sich aber gegen eine Verschärfung der Gesetze entschieden, auch da die meisten Verkehrsteilnehmer selbst verantwortungsvoll mit abnehmender Profiltiefe umgehen.”

Tips form our FB members

*All-season tyres*
While all-season tyres may be an option if you live in a relatively flat environment with hardly any snow, one must bare in mind that the road-holding in both seasons is not as good as season-specific tyres. In addition, the all-season tyres will not get me the last 100m home where I have about a 28% incline with only 5cm of snow. It also barely gets the car up a 200m 13% incline with 5cm snow. They also have a higher noise level than summer tyres, so you have that as well during O2O (Ostern bis Oktober).
The all-season tyres also get wobbly at high ambient temperatures when doing high speeds, so look at the max tyre speed as well.
Suggestion: When your winter tyres do not qualify to be driven during another winter, you can use them for the summer and just buy another winter set next winter.
For the winter tyres, buy a standard set of cheap steel rims – those black things that you need to put a hubcap on if you want it to look pretty. Normal aluminium rims get heavily corroded by the salt and will most likely need to be re-sealed after about 6-8 years. This is not expensive, they simply use paint to paint the inside of the rim. Alternatively, you could buy tyres that take a tube.
*Storage/Changing tyres*
Your local Werkstatt will most likely have a service to do this. They will store your tyres (about €17/change cycle) and might even send you a letter informing you that you need new tyres for the coming season and give you 2 alternative choices that they get a bulk discount on (ours does this).
If you choose to only keep 1 set of rims, they will most likely charge you extra to change tyres because then it’s more work for them as it’s no longer just a case of taking 4 wheels off and putting 4 wheels on.

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