Everyone knows that in sports, there are different shoes for different activities. Most importantly, there are different shoes for different terrains. Makes sense to think that with our cars is the same thing. You change your shoes; change your car’s too!
Around 95% of American tires are “all season”, however, that doesn’t mean that it’s the best thing. For winter, tires should be like training shoes, specially made for that. From heavy snowfall to black ice, winter roads are extremely unpredictable. And winter tires are specially designed to meet the needs of that.
Even if your vehicle is equipped with traction control or ABS braking, winter tires are still beneficial.
There are several characteristics that make winter tires the best for what they’re made. The tread rubber, the depth and patterns of the tread and also the biting edges. These are the most important.
- The tread is the rubber that goes in the outer part of the tire and makes contact with the ground. (Duh!) Therefore its who’s in charge of traction.
The rubber of the tread on regular tires stiffens with the cold, while the rubber on winter tires is specially designed to stay flexible and this allows for better grip, hence, better traction.
- Tread Depth and Patters can influence traction capability also. The deeper the tread, the less the snow buildup. Snow buildup causes the tires pattern to be “flattened” and reduce traction a great amount. Snow tire patterns are specially designed to channel snow and reduce the buildup and therefore, optimize traction.
- Snow tires have significantly increased amount of biting edges, which, as every other feature, increases the traction when contacting the floor.
Now that you know why snow tires are really necessary and not just good marketing trying to screw you over, there’s another thing we can suggest to use if the road is extra, extra icy or snowy, and that’s tire chains. These are GREAT for extra tire traction. So, whether you actually need them or just for precaution, I don’t think it would ever be “too much” to buy some of those. I always say “go all out with safety.”
A TIP: Once you decide changing your tires, go for all 4. Mixing winter tires and all-season tires on the same vehicle causes the front and rear axles to have unequal traction and control. So to maintain the safety, control and traction of your vehicle, change all of them.