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New regulations for winter tires - Copyright Floydine @

Winter tire regulations

The legal regulation for the use of winter tires can be found in Section 2 (3a) of the Road Traffic Act. According to this, winter tires are compulsory in the following cases: black ice, black snow, black ice or black frost.

New regulations

However, since June 1, 2017, with the 52nd ordinance amending road traffic regulations for winter tires, new regulations and technical requirements apply. So far it was considered sufficient that winter tires were marked with "M + S". These tires were characterized by deeper grooves and larger lugs than normal tires.

Now the following applies: Only tires that are marked with the protected Alpine symbol (mountain pictogram with snowflake) are considered winter tires - this is now the seal of quality for winter tires. Stricter requirements apply to Alpine tires than to “M + S” tires: For example, the tire must be compared with a standardized model.
A transitional regulation is intended to facilitate the changeover: "M + S" tires, which were manufactured by December 31, 2017, may continue to be used in winter operation until September 30, 2024. This means that tires produced or purchased up to this point can still be driven on.

The transitional arrangement ends on October 1, 2024.

Fines (€)

From now on, not only the driver of a vehicle that is traveling without winter tires, but also the vehicle owner will be held responsible if he allows or orders that the vehicle is traveling without winter tires in snow or black ice. The driver faces a fine of 60 euros and 1 point in Flensburg and the owner whose vehicle is on the road without the required tires faces a fine of 75 euros plus 1 point in the register of fitness to drive.


A specific period of time for the use of winter tires has not yet been stipulated and so motorists can largely adhere to the rule of thumb “O to O - October to Easter”.

Accidents without winter tires will be expensive!

A traffic obstruction due to missing winter tires alone incurs a fine of 80 euros, a hazard costs 100 euros and an accident 120 euros. In winter, drivers risk their insurance cover if they are on summer tires when driving on slippery snow or ice. In order to reduce the insurance benefits, gross negligence must be proven to the insured person - but this is usually already fulfilled if summer tires are used on the smoothness mentioned.

Minimum tread depth

The main profile of winter tires only has to have a tread depth of 1,6 millimeters by law. However, experts advise not to go below a minimum tread depth of 4 millimeters, as the required properties of the tire decrease significantly below this. The braking distance in particular suffers from this value, which increases significantly compared to that of a good tire.

Speed ​​limit

What speed is possible with my winter tires? A look at the sidewall of the tire provides information. The tire marking is located here. The last letter of the character string corresponds to the maximum permissible speed. An overview of the maximum speed prescribed by the speed index for winter tires can be found in this table:

Speed ​​indexMax. speed
Qup to 160 km / h
Rup to 170 km / h
Sup to 180 km / h
Tup to 190 km / h
Uup to 200 km / h
Hup to 210 km / h
Vup to 240 km / h
Wup to 270 km / h


Article from the green car magazine issue

Cover picture Copyright Floydine @

N. Hawthorn

One thought on “Winter Tire Regulations”

  1. Hello, thank you for the informative article!
    Was once again super informative and helped me to put on the right tires. Because you know how dangerous it is to be on the road without winter tires. It can be absolutely fatal to be on the road with the wrong tires or with deflated tires.
    So off to the workshop and putting new tires on, after all it's already winter and I'm a bit late this year.

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