WINTER TIRES – SHOULD I BOTHER?

All too often, drivers find themselves asking “Do I need winter tires if I have all season treads on my car?” The answer is surpisingly complex. The best way to come to a decision is to understand the difference between winter tires and all-season tires. Every driver’s needs are entirely different depending on average weather conditions and road conditions they see throughout the year.

ALL SEASON TIRES

All season tires are extremely popular. They are often the tire of choice for manufacturers when their vehicles leave the factory. They offer up the best of both worlds when it comes to tire performance. All season tires are built to provide all the basic creature comforts of tires in general. Relatively quiet ride, solid tread live, good fuel economy, and respectable performance in a variety of conditions from wet roads and light winter driving to summer driving. All season tires are designed to offer up the benefits of both summer and winter tires, without sacrificing too much.

WINTER/SNOW TIRES

For extreme conditions, having the right tire definitely matters. From heavy snowdfall to black ice, winter roads are extremely unpredictable. There are driving challenges in winter conditions that are like no other season of the year. The overall combination of cold temperatures, precipitation, and ice on the ground pose a significant threat to drivers everywhere. Winter and snow tires are designed to perform under such conditions.

TREAD RUBBER

In colder temperatures, tire rubber stiffens and becomes less able to give traction. To better combat this, winter tires often are designed with a particular rubber compound that better grips the road to provide maximum traction regardless of temperature.

TREAT DEPTH / TREAD PATTERNS

Among tires, tread depth and tread pattern are almost entirely unique to winter tires.  Deeper tread depths reduce the buildup of snow and help to provide traction on snowy surfaces. Winter tire treads are designed to better channel snow, slush, and water away from the tire.

Winter tires are also recipients of an increased number of “biting edges” or high sipe densities to provide additional tread for traction on ice.  These “biting edges” are tiny, tiny slits in the tread to help provide more surface area and traction on icy surfaces.

SO WHAT’S FOR ME?

The solution to the conundrum of winter vs all season tires….really depends on where you live and the conditions in which you drive.

If you are the average driver; someone who braves the elements to hit the store in certain conditions or needs to get to work on a particularly bad day? All season tires may likely be best for you.  If safety is your biggest concern, having winter tires mounted wouldn’t be seen as “over the top,” but rather an essential life saving safety measure.

When deciding on winter tires for the season, it is always best to install a full set. Changing out just the front tires (on a front wheel drive vehicle) poses a set of potential problems. Uneven tread wear can ensure that the rear wheels may lose traction and make it nigh impossible to steer the vehicle.

If you do find yourself going to all winter tires for the season, one needs to make sure to re-mount new tires for the non-winter months.  While winter tires are totally superior in extreme winter conditions, they will no doubt wear down so much faster on drier spring/summer pavements.

And, of course, should your tires not be ideal and you find yourself in a jam… Please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Rob’s to get you towed out of a jam and suited up for the roads ahead.

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