Snow Tires: A Winter Necessity
A surgeon’s scalpel is the perfect tool for performing surgeries but you wouldn’t use it for cutting down a tree or cutting the crust off of your sandwich. Similarly, you wouldn’t use a chainsaw in the operating room. You need the right tools for the job, just like you need the right kind of tires for the season.
When it’s cold out and especially when there is snow and ice on the roads, tires tend to lose their gripping abilities which means it can be harder to turn or slow down. This is where winter tires make such a huge difference over all-seasons, and especially summer tires. Winter tires tend to be made out of special rubber that maintains its flexibility, with special siping within the treads to maximize grip on slippery surfaces. The tread pattern too, is designed to dig into snow and ice better for more sure-footed grip on the road and improved braking and acceleration. While some people try to save money and only install winter tires on the front or rear wheels (depending on if it’s a front- or rear-wheel drive vehicle), it’s safest to put winter tires on all four corners of the vehicle.
The common misconception is that “all season” tires are best for year round driving but in fact, “all season” tires are really “no season” tires. They have more tread than a typical summer tire but are usually too hard of a rubber compound to be effective on ice or in deep snow. So instead, all season tires are ok for normal driving but far from ideal when it starts getting cold out. The key with winter tires though is to get them installed before the first snowfall. In Minnesota, November is usually a good month to get them installed. Having a second set of wheels with winter tires already mounted might cost more up-front but will save you time and money down the road because you can change the wheels yourself with relatively few tools and you won’t spend time in the shop waiting for someone else to do the work for you. To get the maximum amount of life out of the tires, it’s best to install them when the temperature stays consistently below 40-50 degrees for the day and remove them when temperatures rise above that again in the spring.
There are many different brands of snow tires that can be used and most will certainly give you an advantage in winter time driving. We had used two almost identical Mazda 3 vehicles, one with snow tires and another with factory tires in this video comparison. It’s not that you can’t get through the snow and ice with the factory tires but, having snow tires is a major advantage. We found that not only can you accelerate and maneuver more quickly with the snow tires but stopping is much easier than without snow tires. The compound of the rubber and the way the snow tires are designed helps to bite into the snow and ice to help improve the overall grip and stopping power. We would suggest looking into adding snow tires to your vehicle to enhance you safety for winter driving.
Check out the video below to see just how much the snow tire can effect your vehicle in the winter.