The answer to this question is generally affected by where you live, and more importantly, where you drive. In some areas of the country, winter tires, aka snow tires, are a wise investment, while in other areas, they might not even be a consideration at all.
Are all-season tires good enough?
Many people are fooled into thinking that all-season tires will get them safely through all seasons and all road conditions. In reality, however, these versatile tires are not actually meant for the icy or snowy driving conditions that winter can often bring.
All-season tires work well on dry roads or in warm rain, such as that experienced during spring, summer, or fall. When wintertime rolls around, however, these tires just don’t have the same level of grip on icy, slushy, or snowy roads.
Why you may want winter tires
If you live in or frequently drive to areas where ice, slush, or snow on the road is common, or even a possibility, purchasing and installing a set of good quality winter tires may help you be the safest on the road. Here’s why …
- Winter tires are made of cold-weather rubber.
When colder temperatures hit, the rubber in all-season or summer tires remains rigid. Winter tires, however, are made out of a high-tech rubber compound that stays flexible, even in colder weather. This is especially helpful in keeping the tires in contact with the road as you drive in less-than-ideal conditions.
- Winter tires have better tread for winter weather.
The tread of a tire is what enables it to displace water, ice, or snow and keep the rubber in contact with the road, providing you with essential traction for driving safely. Winter tires are specially designed with additional cuts and biting edges, giving you the extra grip needed to stay in control on slippery surfaces.
Winter tire alternatives
If you frequently drive in extreme winter conditions, or if you drive on icy, snowy, or slushy roads on a rare occasion, there are alternatives to winter tires that may make more sense for you to utilize.
- Studded snow tires – These are helpful in mountainous areas where the roads are often covered with snow, slush, or ice for the entire winter season. Metal pins in the tires’ tread blocks punch into the snow or ice and provide exceptional grip. Since they can damage roads not covered in ice or snow, however, they aren’t allowed everywhere. Before purchasing and using them, be sure to check local regulations to see if they can be used on the roads on which you’ll be driving.
- Tire chains – If you live near mountainous areas which get snow, or you visit them for recreational activities such as skiing, keeping a set of tire chains in your vehicle can be a smart decision. While they may take some practice to install properly, tire chains are meant to fit over your existing tires and provide you with additional traction when you need it the most. This can be a money-saving alternative to winter tires if you drive on slushy, icy, or snowy roads only infrequently.
In addition to having your vehicle properly equipped with the tires that match your frequent driving conditions, regular tire maintenance is essential for proper tire performance and driving safety.
Tire tread should be regularly monitored for depth, wear, and tear – this can provide clues to alignment issues or indicate when tire replacement is necessary. Additionally, tire pressure should be maintained at the manufacturer’s recommended level for optimal vehicle performance, driving safety, and best gas mileage. Give us a call or schedule an appointment for tire service today to maximize performance and enhance your driving safety.