Are Winter Tires Worth the Investment ?
Four of the most important pieces of equipment on a vehicle are the tires that actually touch the road and keep it connected to the ground. While there are many good all-season tires available, drivers should buy a dedicated set of winter tires for the snowy and icy months.
The Winter Tire Difference
Even drivers of four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive vehicles should make the switch to winter tires when the weather starts to turn. Winter tires provide increased handling, stopping distance, and grip in cold weather.
Winter tires feature a specialized tread width and pattern, which provides drivers with enhanced handling and braking performance on snowy and slippery roads. This specialized tread also provides extra grip on snowy surfaces when summer tires can start to fishtail or spin out. Winter tires also have very deep sipes, which are the slits in the tire treads that allow the tire to cut through slush and avoid hydroplaning.
Decreased Stopping Distance
Winter tires feature a stopping distance almost three times shorter than summer tires. For example, a winter tire might come to a stop within 100 feet while a summer tire would take 300 feet to make the same stop. Having a set of winter tires on could be the difference between sliding into an intersection or stopping before an accident occurs.
The rubber compound is specially formulated in winter tires to provide a better grip in cold weather. This very soft compound stays flexible even as temperatures drop, providing drivers with more controlled handling. On the other hand, the rubber in summer tires hardens in colder temperatures, which results in less grip on the road.
Four Tires are Better than Two
Winter tires should always be installed in a matching set of four to help maintain balanced and controlled handling in winter driving conditions. Drivers of front-wheel-drive vehicles might think that using just two winter tires on their vehicle will offer increased handling benefits, but in fact the opposite is true. Using just two winter tires creates a traction mismatch that can have serious handling consequences.
Winter Tire Pressure
Having a full set of winter tires is incredibly important, especially in harsh Canadian winters, but it is also important for drivers to maintain correct air pressure in their tires for good handling, traction, and durability. As temperatures fall, tire inflation pressure will change, so it is a good idea to check tire inflation pressures and get them filled appropriately.