With the colder weather months fast approaching across the country, it’s time for drivers to look at winterizing their Kia vehicles, and tires should be at the top of the list. Whether you have to deal with blizzards or the rainy season, traction is reduced at this time of year.
Regardless of whether your vehicle drives the front, rear or all four wheels, the tires and how well they grip the road will be the ultimate limitation on traction. Selecting the right tires for your expected road conditions and making sure they stay in good condition will do wonders to keep your car, crossover or SUV pointed in the right direction and moving. Even sophisticated driver aids like antilock brakes and stability control only have the available traction to work with, so maximizing the tire’s hold on the road will help the electronics work better.
“Over the past few decades, the development of increasingly advanced all-weather tires has meant the elimination of that old twice-a-year ritual of swapping out the snow tires for most drivers,” said John Crowe, Vice President, Service and Aftersales Operations for Kia Motors America (KMA). “In many regions of the country, a modern all-season tire like those found on new Kia models, can provide an excellent combination of grip, hand
ling, low-noise and long-life twelve months a year.”
Drivers in northern states or mountainous regions that experience sustained temperatures below 40 degrees F, or heavy snowfall, should seriously consider a set of dedicated winter tires, however. Until about 20 years ago, the only real difference between summer tires and snow tires was the tread design. Like all other tires, modern winter tires have become much more sophisticated.
Today’s winter tires are constructed from specially formulated rubber compounds that stay more pliable at low temperatures for better traction, handling and braking capabilities.
With their wide grooves and large tread blocks, those old snow tires could grip in the white stuff, but got very noisy and squirmy when they hit dry roads. At a glance, the latest generation of snow tires now looks much more like their warm weather counterparts. However, a closer look at the tread pattern reveals many small grooves cut into the larger tread blocks that help to get a grip on both snow and ice. The result is 25 to 50 percent better traction on snow and ice compared to all-season tires.
Because of the significant differences in performance between dedicated winter tires and all-season models, drivers are recommended to equip all four corners with the same type. The service department at your Kia dealer can quickly swap out winter and summer/all-season tires and even take care of other recommended service at the same time.
For those areas of the country that don’t get much or any of the white stuff, the winter months often bring increased levels of rain. While rain doesn’t necessarily demand a completely different type of tire, it’s still important to make sure a vehicle’s rolling stock is in optimum condition.
Tire treads inevitably wear down over time, so autumn is an excellent time to check out all four tires and make sure there is enough depth in the grooves. Tire engineers design the grooves to channel water away from the vehicle’s path so that the tread surface can grip the roadway. When the tread grooves get too shallow, the water can’t get out. This allows the tire to hydroplane, dropping traction to almost zero, so it feels like driving on sheer ice.
Whether your conditions call for switching to winter rubber or sticking with the all-season versions, your tires should also be checked for uneven wear across the tread. Hitting severe potholes or curbs can easily knock wheels out of alignment, triggering excessive wear on the inner or outer edges. This can result in vibration, handling problems, longer braking distances and reduced traction in poor weather. A precision four-wheel alignment is an inexpensive service operation that can be performed at your Kia service department to help tires last longer and make a vehicle safer.
“No matter where you live or drive, now is the time to check out your tires and get them serviced before getting stuck in a ditch or snow bank,” said Crowe, “and Kia dealers can help.”