All-season tires offer long tread-life, fuel economy, good ride quality & traction. But the fact is that these tires that perform optimally in the summer heat do not offer that same quality of traction in the winter. The tread-compound that is used in the all-season tires offers very little cold weather traction & they tend to harden in freezing temperatures. In turn, this has a negative impact on traction.
On the other hand, winter tires are specifically-designed to help in delivering safety & control in ice, snow, slush, rain & cold weather. It’s somewhat like the difference between athletic shoes & snow boots. Though you will be able to walk along a snow-covered sidewalk with athletic boots, it’s definitely safer to use snow boots.
Winter Tires – The Technology
Take a look at some distinctive features and benefits of these tires:
• All winter tires have a very soft rubber compound which stays flexible even as temperatures drop, and this provides more controlled handling
• They have very unique tread patterns & wider grooves which enhance traction on snow & ice by providing the channels that drain water as well as expel snow
• The tires have very deep sipes- these are the slits in the tire treads that cut through slush and water & improve the grip by avoiding hydroplaning
• Having a good tire grip is crucial in snow and ice conditions and it helps in ensuring that the car will stop when you want it to, and steer well when it is in motion
• Winter tires also deliver superior traction- this is almost 25-50% higher than regular all-season tires. This safety margin is crucial for stopping in time/ turning to avoid trouble
Things to Remember With Winter Tires
• Always install your winter tires in a matching-set of 4. This helps maintain controlled & balanced handling in winter-driving conditions. If you use only 2 winter tires on your car, it will create a mismatch in the traction and can have a negative impact on handling
• Good handling is also a lot about maintaining the right tire pressure. It also improves traction and durability of the tires
• Always check inflation pressures in the fall & early winter months. These are the most critical times as the air contracts in colder temperatures
• Always keep all the valve-caps on. If they are left off, there can be a moisture-freeze inside the valve and the air will escape
• The tires which meet the required snow standards always have the symbol of a snowflake on their sidewall. This particular symbol helps in distinguishing winter tires from all-season & mud & snow-rated tires.
Drive in a Controlled Manner
Drive slowly and with utmost caution. When you have winter tires on your vehicle, you are assured of maximum traction, enhanced braking performance, grip and control and they help you handle unexpected stops in a better way. What is also probably even more important than using winter tires, is to be controlled with the way you drive in ice, snow and slush conditions. Even as the cold weather sets in- drive safe with winter tires.
Snow Tires may seem like a fad to make you spend more on your car, but they truly aren’t. I have an uncle who simply loves to declare that he’s never had snow tires, and doesn’t need them, however, he has been retired for 15 years, and typically only drives to the grocery store or the Mapleview Mall. In this era, it makes sense to have winter tires as there are more cars on the road. Twenty years ago, a household may have only had one or two cars. Today, everyone in the house seems to have one. When it snowed decades ago, if you lost control of the car, you might just skid into a ditch. Today, with so much traffic, you’re certain to hit someone. I noticed that without snow tires, it’s easy to get stuck going up a steep hill, if you don’t get a good run at it. With regular tires in icy conditions, it’s also easy to slide backward on hills when stopped at stoplights or stop signs. For this simple piece of mind of not getting stuck on hills very easily, this, in our opinion is a good reason to get winter tires.