Getting out and conquering the weather provides a welcome respite from the winter doldrums, so don’t let foul weather or cold keep you from doing the things you enjoy. A simple yet effective way to get around safely in the colder months is to invest in a set of winter tires.
While not every area of the country experiences snow or even brutally cold temperatures, the fact is that summer and “all-season” tire rubber begins to lose its flexibility and ability to grip the road when the temperature drops below just 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter-specific tire rubber is specifically formulated to perform in colder temperatures, and winter tires also have added features and specific tread patterns to help maximize traction in poor driving conditions. In addition, summer and all-season tire tread patterns are designed to channel away water; when it gets colder, those channels can get filled with snow or ice and slush, creating a dangerous situation. Winter tires feature tread “sipes” – tiny slits in the tread blocks that enable the tires to flex and rid themselves of the snow that packs in when you drive. Even on sheets of ice, winter tires will give you better traction than non-winter tires.
Winter tires are just as important on four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles in order to realize the benefits of the 4WD/AWD system; it doesn’t matter how many wheels are getting power if the tires they wear can’t hold the road. AutoExpress magazine compared two vehicles of the same make and model––one equipped with AWD and summer tires and the other a front-wheel drive model with winter tires––and the FWD/winter tire model simply outperformed the AWD model, specifically because of the difference in tires.
A study done a few years ago in Canada saw accidents drop by five percent when winter tires were mandated, partially due to the fact that winter tires have been shown to help cut braking distances by as much as 30 percent.
Some manufacturers recommend a specific make and style of winter tires for their vehicles. Ask your dealer’s service department for information about what is suitable and/or recommended for your particular make and model.
A pair of proper winter tires can mean the difference between confident winter driving and potential trouble, and it’s not too late to make the switch. There are plenty of affordable choices available, and your dealer’s factory-trained personnel can help get your vehicle ready for anything winter brings.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.