The universal rule for better winter traction is to get the narrowest possible winter tire with the same (or nearly same) diameter as the stock tire. Rounder casing designs add traction by cutting into the snow’s surface. A stiff tread base and special construction of the tire’s overlay creates an even pressure distribution in the tire footprint. This optimizes grip in the contact patch on snow and wet roads and provides a better steering response on dry roads.
Wide circumferential grooves enhance winter traction by providing efficient channels to drain water and expel snow. The smaller shoulder grooves of modern winter tires provide increased snow and ice traction while maintaining dry handling. Special lug and groove shapes allow more snow to be packed into the tread and expelled as the tire rotates for better deep snow traction.
Many winter tires feature a tread design that moves slush and water out of the way. The more open the tread design, the better the tire will perform in accumulated snow. The larger the tread blocks, the better the handling and steering response. Modern tread design also helps reduce the tire’s noise level.
High-density sipe designs create more biting edges to help cut through water and slush so the tread compound can make better contact with the road. The sipes on the outer edges of the tread squeeze together under hard dry cornering; allowing the tread to act as a solid block to improve handling.
5 COLD WEATHER TIRE MYTHS.
SOMETIMES CALLED SNOW TIRES OR WINTER TIRES, COLD WEATHER
TIRES FEATURE TECHNOLOGY THAT OTHER TIRES DON’T.
1. WINTER TIRES ARE ONLY FOR SNOW.
Anyone who lives where the weather gets a little cooler can benefit from winter tires. In colder temperatures, all-season tires stiffen, reducing grip. The rubber compounds and other components that make up winter tires keep them flexible in temperatures below 45°F. Tire flexibility allows for better vehicle handling and stopping.
2. BRAKES ALONE STOP MY VEHICLE.
Tires greatly affect your vehicle’s stopping distance. Especially when roads are slick, tires without specifically designed winter tread patterns can simply slide when the brakes are applied. Winter tires have deep grooves and small slits called sipes that cut through snow and ice, keeping more of your tire in contact with the road.
3. MY ALL-SEASON TIRES WORK FINE IN THE WINTER.
All-season tires are great for mild weather changes, but anyone who experiences cooler winters can get better performance with winter tires. In addition to having flexible compounds and specialized tread designs, winter tires help make your all-season tires last longer: while the winter ones are on, the all-season ones aren’t wearing down.
4. WINTER TIRES ARE MORE EXPENSIVE.
The cost of winter tires is usually comparable to any other kind of tire. Plus, switching between winter tires and all-season or summer tires makes both sets last longer than they normally would.
5. I HAVE FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE, I DON’T NEED WINTER TIRES.
Ever see SUVs on the side of the road when the weather’s bad? They probably don’t have winter tires. In the winter, four-wheel drive can help you get going but won’t help when you’re trying to stop. Four-wheel drive helps you control the tires, but that doesn’t mean much if the tires themselves aren’t flexible enough or don’t have the right tread design to push snow and ice out of their way.
Tires are your only four points of contact with the road. The more they touch the road, the safer they are. Winter tires make all the difference in colder temperatures and in snowy, icy conditions.