Preparing your Jaguar for the winter months is an important step in ensuring that your vehicle continues to operate in top condition. While that means having all the necessary fluids and vehicle safety check performed before the cold weather arrives, it may also be important to consider switching to winter tires. If you live in an area of the country that experiences cold, snow and/or icy conditions, choosing the right tires can significantly improve your vehicle’s traction in foul weather and decrease the chances of becoming stuck or being involved in a mishap.
Winter tires differ from their summer or all-season counterparts in a number of ways, starting with the actual rubber compound used in their construction. Whereas the average performance tire is engineered to provide more grip as the tire grows warmer, winter tires need to be able to do just the opposite. As a result, manufacturers utilize softer compounds that are poorly suited for the heat of summer, but are right at home rolling over snow and ice.
Tire manufacturers must also find a balance between high-grip tread patterns and noise reduction for their winter offerings. Summer and all-season tires are specifically engineered to provide plenty of grip while remaining quiet at all speeds. Winter tires require larger blocks of tread with deep evacuation spaces between them to dig through loosely packed snow and slush, which typically translates to more on-road noise. Engineers use tread blocks with alternating length to negate drone and keep the cabin quiet without sacrificing performance.
More importantly, winter tires are designed with a larger number of “sipes,” or small water evacuation spaces, than summer or all-season tires. According to tire experts, when a vehicle slides on ice, its tires are actually hydroplaning on a microscopic level. A thin layer of water pressurizes under the weight of the vehicle, which causes a loss of traction. Sipes allow water to displace into the tread of the tire, which in turn allows the rubber to make contact with the actual surface of the ice and gain traction.
In areas where frozen road conditions persist throughout the winter season, drivers may want to consider opting for tires that allow for the use of studs. Studs are small metal cleats that perform just like golf cleats, though they bite into snow and ice instead of turf. Some municipalities have regulations about when or if studded tires may be used, so be sure to check with your local law enforcement first.
Schedule an appointment before cold weather hits to make sure you’re prepared before the mercury drops too low. For optimum winter performance, you should always match your front and rear tires, i.e., install winter tread tires on all four corners. Refer to your Owners Manual and your authorized Jaguar service representative to help you decide on the right winter tires for your area and your vehicle. A quality winter tire, maintained properly, will greatly improve your vehicle’s handling in foul weather, help to decrease stopping distances and maintain the world-class levels of ride comfort and quietness that are hallmarks of the Jaguar brand.