When it comes to driving in winter weather, having the right tires matters. From heavy snowfall to black ice, winter roads are extremely unpredictable. To help combat all weather conditions, many drivers use all-season tires. However, all-season tires may not be right for every driver. The combination of cold temperatures and snow are normally best met by winter tires, which are specially designed to perform in winter conditions. To determine which tires you need to equip this wintry season, you must first understand the differences between winter tires and all-season tires.
Other Advantages of Winter Tires:
- Winter tires are manufactured to perform in cold conditions. The winter tread design features high sipe density for better traction. Sipes are razor-thin grooves within the tread, which create additional "biting" edges to grip the winter roads. Wide circumferential grooves help channel snow, ice, slush or water away from the tire’s surface allowing for better contact between the tire and the road.
- The tread compounds are engineered to allow for optimal performance of the tire when the temperature drops below 45 degrees. Today's high performance winter tires also provide excellent traction on cold, dry roads as well as a quiet, comfortable ride.
- Even if your vehicle is equipped with traction control or ABS braking, winter tires are still beneficial. While these systems will help you drive safely, they do not increase your traction. The only thing that will increase the traction of your vehicle is your tires.
- Changing out your wheels for the winter months will protect your original equipment or aftermarket alloy wheels from the harsh winter elements that cause deterioration.
Which Are Best?The solution to the winter or snow tires vs. all-season tires question will depend on where you live and your average driving conditions.
If you only see a few snow flurries each year and slick, icy roads are more of a fluke than an annual ordeal, all-season tires are probably the way to go. But if there's a period when icy roads may be an issue, mounting winter tires isn't an over-the-top precaution - it's an essential safety measure that could be the difference between stopping and sliding.
What Now?When mounting winter tires for the season, always install a full set of 4. Only changing out the front tires increases the likelihood that the rear tires will skid on the snow or ice. Likewise, just putting snow tires on the rear wheels could cause the front tires to lose traction and make it impossible to steer your vehicle.
And always remember to re-mount those all-season tires when spring time rolls around. Even though winter tires are undeniably superior in extreme winter conditions, they will wear down faster on warm, dry pavement.