Anyone who’s driven in the snow can tell you about the heart-pounding scare that is fishtailing down an icy road. Winter tires are a must to restore traction on your ride. They help you spend less time shoveling out a frozen tire and more time enjoying the beauty of wintertime – and the ability of getting from point A to point B without a hassle.
What Are Winter Tires and Do I Really Need Them?
Winter tires are engineered to brave the cold, slick roads of the chilly season. These tires are made to perform in murky conditions such as low temperature, wet roads, snow and unexpected patches of ice. Winter tires remain resilient in colder temperatures thanks to their superior rubber composites that create better traction instead of hardening like all-season tires. Weakened traction on the road can lead to hydroplaning and less responsive braking, giving way to crashes and spins no matter what speed you’re going.
If you live in an area that’s typically colder than 45 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, it’s recommended that you pick up a set of snow tires. Even if your ride is equipped with the convenience of four-wheel drive, you’ll still need to invest in a set of winter tires. A simple tire swap not only means easier driving, but it also makes the roads safer for you and other drivers.
The issue with four-wheel or all-wheel drive is that the added traction power is only available when the vehicle is accelerating, such as climbing a steep hill or towing. This power is useless once the brakes are activated, demolishing the myth that this added feature can replace the need for additional winter accessories. A set of four winter tires is necessary for even wear, improved handling and heightened safety out on the road.
Studded Vs Studless Tires
Among the hundreds of tires on the market, there are two main types of winter tires to choose from. Studded winter tires have tiny metal studs fashioned along the tread and for many years were the go-to wheel for harsh, snowy conditions. Although some showcase smaller studs than others, the featured protrusions are tough enough to dig into ice and pavement. Studded tires carry strict laws in several states for this reason – making them illegal in some. It’s best to brush up on your state’s tire regulations if you’re considering these tires.
Another type of winter wheel is the studless tire, a modern alternative to its studded predecessor. These tires are engineered with a pliable rubber compound made to resist extremely cold temperatures. They also display significantly deeper treads for increased traction in snow and ice. This modernization has almost eliminated the need for studded tires, but the choice is ultimately up to you.
Installing snow tires keeps you prepared for the winter season, but remember to store them properly once the cold breeze and snowy roads are long gone. Because pliable rubber is easily worn down, it’s not recommended to leave your snow tires on year-round. By taking them off at the end of the season you’re ensuring their longevity and your safety.
Unless you live in a chillier region, snow tires aren’t necessarily required if you’re taking a quick trip – such as a ski trip. Appropriate alternatives include snow chains, traction mats and maintenance tools such as salt-spreaders and snow plows to keep the road safe for everyone. Snow chains are specific to your tire size, which can be found engraved on your tires.
Whether you’re caravanning to a cabin for the winter or commuting daily through ice and slush, it’s crucial to maintain optimal safety standards in hazy driving conditions. Do so with the appropriate cold weather auto equipment so you can experience a safe, enjoyable winter.