What Winter Tires To Buy
All winter tires, whether studless or studded, are made to maintain better traction in extreme cold, and on icy, snowy, or slushy roads. The rubber is able to remain softer, which makes it more flexible, allowing the tire to conform to the road better in extremely cold conditions. This feature, along with deeper tread depths and specialized tread designs, are what make snow/winter tires ideal for inclement winter weather and extreme cold driving conditions.
what winter tires to buy
We use this analogy - tennis shoes. Yes, you can wear tennis shoes on the beach or in the snow, but wouldn't it be better to have flip flops on the beach and boots for the snow? Winter tires are like snow boots for your car.
Winter tires are specially designed for cold temperatures and winter precipitation. Once it gets warm, you won't need deep tread depths to handle snow or biting edges for traction on ice. Here are some specific reasons why using winter tires year round is not recommended.
Faster wear on warm, dry pavement - the tread rubber of winter tires is considerably more flexible than that of all season and summer tires. That same pliable tread rubber that adds traction in winter will wear down quickly in warm temperatures. Summer and all-season tires are built to withstand warm temperatures, providing long wear life.
Decreased performance - In warm weather, winter tires won't provide the same handling capabilities as summer or all-season tires. Imagine if you needed to make a quick maneuver and your tires were soft and squishy. You won't get the crisp response from a winter tire in warm weather. Winter tires need that flexibilitity to handle ice and snow, but it's not as useful in warm weather.
The specialized compounds and tread designs of winter tires are not designed for optimal warm climate performance and wear. Generally speaking, the softer tread of a winter tire will wear out faster in warmer temperatures. If you keep winter tires on your vehicle after winter has come and gone, you will have to replace them sooner than had you removed them for springtime.
You should consider a few factors when picking the best snow tires. First, determine your budget. You should also consider where you live and how much snow you typically get during the winter. If you have very mild winters, you may be fine with a set of all-season tires.
First, consider where you live. For locations with mild winters or those that only get a few light snowfalls each winter, you may be able to stick with all-season tires or all-terrain tires. However, if you regularly drive in snow or ice storms, you could probably use a set of snow tires.
Snow tires perform best in winter conditions. While all-season tires have a harder rubber compound, snow tires have a hydrophilic rubber. The harder rubber of all-season tires works better on hot pavement. The softer rubber of snow tires will be more pliable in cold winter weather.
Most well-known tire brands have at least one quality snow tire that should perform moderately well in winter conditions. If you have a preferred brand of tire, chances are they also make a snow tire you can purchase for your car this winter.
Snow tires, on the other hand, are designed to not only drive on snow and ice but also perform effectively at high speeds on dry pavement. Chains are not a substitute for snow tires but can be a good option to have on hand in a pinch.
Studded tires, on the other hand, give you even greater traction on ice. The metal studs will grab onto slick surfaces for added grip. One downside is that studded tires can be quite noisy on dry roads.
It's never too early (or too late) in the season to start thinking about winter tires. "We start encouraging drivers to think about snow tires in September," says John Rastetter, a senior executive at Tire Rack, a prominent national tire retailer. But even if you've delayed the purchase, putting them on late is better than never. The most important thing you can do to get your car ready for a future snowstorm or just icy roads is to make sure it is riding on the right tires for the season.
Consumers have gravitated towards the perceived all-weather sure-footedness of crossovers with all- or four-wheel drive, but while these systems help you go, they do nothing to help you stop. Stopping power on slippery surfaces is almost completely due to the traction provided by your tires. Dedicated winter tires massively outperform all-seasons in cold weather. Tests conducted by Tire Rack saw a 35 percent improvement in braking when using winter tires over standard all-season tires. And that percentage could constitute a life-and-death difference.
This brings up another stumbling block that can keep drivers from using winter tires: storage. "One of the obstacles we see from our customers is the inability to store a second set of wheels and tires," says Don Barnes, an executive with Belle Tire, a retailer located in the Detroit area. For some, the clutter of an already packed garage just cannot absorb a stack of tires. But for others - primarily apartment-dwellers - having to store tires throughout the year is virtually impossible. Then there's the inconvenience of having to transport tires to an installer twice a year, says Barnes. With tires sizes having grown considerably in the last decade, often four tires just will not fit in a small car, meaning more than one trip to the tire shop each time you have your tires changed. That's why tire retailer Belle Tire started offering off-season tire and wheel storage, using the same warehouse it stores new tires in to keep its customers' old ones. Tires and wheels are cleaned and stored in a tote, and can be swapped by appointment at any of Belle's locations. Often, Barnes says, the service is so popular that it sells out. While Belle's service is just one solution in a limited geographic area, we have seen other retailers offering similar plans, including some new car dealers.
Keep in mind that snow tires are not produced year-round like all-season tires, and tire retailers can and do run out of them. That's why it's important to buy new snow tires even before the weather gets cold. The tire industry, like the car industry at large, has been shaken by the recent financial collapse and Tire Rack's Rastetter says there have been spot shortages in the last few years. "As we get further into a winter season," he says, "there will almost always be some shortages."
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Retailers aren't just interested in clearing out space. Tire manufacturers redesign their winter tires about every four to five years on average, meaning that last year's design may go on sale in January and February in anticipation of a new model debuting in summer ahead of the next winter driving season.
If you're in Miami and you've read this far, we applaud your enthusiasm for something you probably don't need. But for drivers who live where snow is a regular occurrence for at least a few months out of the year, winter tires make a lot of sense. They're generally less expensive to buy in the first place than summer rubber and they allow drivers to have the best possible tire regardless of season.
For most cars, tires can be put into three categories: dedicated summer tires generally seen on more performance-oriented vehicles; all-season tires aimed at a wide variety of driving; and, of course, winter tires.
Winter tires boast a different rubber compound than summer tires that's designed to be far more effective in cold weather and their tread pattern is optimized for both acceleration traction and, perhaps more importantly, braking.
All-season tires, meanwhile, represent a compromise. Good all-season tires will deliver adequate traction on dry, wet, or even lightly snow-covered roads, but they're not optimal for regular winter driving on ice or snow.
A car or a crossover with all-wheel drive may be able to get going in deep snow with all-season rubber, but the biggest difference comes in braking. All-season tires lack the correct groove between the rubber's lugs and they don't usually have good siping (thin slits cut into the tire's tread). It's the combination of these two factors that help winter tires grip slippery surfaces for acceleration and bite into them for enhanced braking.
Tire shops typically charge between $15 and $25 per tire to swap, so you're on the hook for about $60-100 twice a year. However, if you buy a set of wheels to keep with your tires, you can either swap them out yourself in about an hour with a floor jack and a wrench or most tire shops will do the job for less than $30.
Edmonds said that Tire Rack generally recommends "T-day to T-day" as the winter tire season, meaning Thanksgiving to Tax Day (April 15), although that varies by climate. Drivers at higher elevations in, say, Colorado or Utah, may have a longer winter tire season.
Potholes, curbs and other road hazards are just waiting to mess with your wheels. After your next alignment at Belle Tire, an additional $35 gets you unlimited wheel alignments for the next 12 months. This helps protect your investment by getting every possible mile out of your tires (and saving you up to $144 during the year). 041b061a72