With projected high temperatures near 90° this week, it is odd to sit here on an early October afternoon in Texas writing this blog post. However, I have survived enough Octobers to know that, climate change or not; it will be winter somewhere in America sooner rather than later. I also understand that wintertime driving poses challenges and that’s why you need the best tires for wintertime driving.
Whether the Weather Be Cold…
I will admit that my thoughts toward changing temperatures never extend much beyond my wardrobe. Remember that not just personal comfort is affected by temperature variation. When it comes to tires, what is appropriate in one season is not necessarily applicable to all seasons. Snow tires provide improved traction in winter but will wear faster as the mercury rises. On the other hand, I tire designed to group well in hot, dry weather will land you in the ditch at the first sign of frozen precipitation.
If you live in a state that experiences a substantial amount of snow or ice, you may want to consider swapping to snow tires for the winter months. Snow tires feature a tread compound not found in all season tires. This compound allows the tires to remain flexible in colder weather, ensuring better traction. In extreme conditions, traction can be further enhanced with the addition of studs.
Are You a Stud Kind of Guy?
The proper response to the quandary “to stud or not to stud” comes down where and how you drive. Several studies have concluded that studded tires provide the best advantage on clear ice at temperatures near freezing. Conversely, stud-less tires deliver better handling and braking in subfreezing temperatures regardless of precipitation.
Beyond weather conditions, other factors must be considered before swapping to studded tires. Studded tires are noisier to operate than standard tires. Further, they offer less protection, wear out faster and can cause road damage if the roadway is merely wet and not frozen. Drivers should also consider the legality of their choice. Many states restrict the use of studded tires, both rubber and metal, and those without restriction on type have limits on when they can be employed.
If you live in an area with harsh winters, dedicated winter tires may be a necessary option. Another step worth considering would be the purchase of dedicated wheels for those tires. This one-time investment will eliminate the expense of mounting and balancing at the change of every season.
In Milder Winter Zones
If you reside in an area that only experiences the occasional deep freeze and winter storm, all-season tires might be an option. An all-season tire brings balance between temperature extremes. A true all-season tire will carry a mountain or snowflake symbol certifying that they meet the winter performance standards set by US and Canadian rubber manufacturers. While many tire makers offer what they call “all season” tires, without a symbol of certification, performance may be questionable.
Choosing the right tire is important as it comes down to a choice about your personal safety. Doing a little homework before things get nasty can save you time, effort, inconvenience and maybe even your life.
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Even though most vehicles are sold with all-season tires it doesn’t mean you should stick with that factory installed rubber. You are doing yourself a real disservice by not switching to more specialized tires after buying a vehicle. Depending on where you live, a good set of seasonal tires can vastly improve the performance of your vehicle.
Why All-Season Tires are Sold
Most vehicle manufacturers factory install all-season tires because they don’t know in what climate the car will be sold. Unfortunately, these general purpose tires aren’t nearly as effective at maintaining traction in different driving conditions than summer or winter tires are.
Get a Set of Summer Tires
When you are driving in warmer conditions, nothing can beat the traction offered by summer tires. These tires feature water-shedding tread and thick sections of flat rubber designed to grip dry pavement. This means you get enhanced grip on dry surfaces and improved wet road handling as well. Just make sure you aren’t driving with these tires when you go over a snowy or slushy road because they will handle horribly.
If you live in a warmer climate where snow is unheard of, you could rely on summer tires all year round. With a summer tire, you can enjoy vastly superior performance compared to the factory installed all-seasons.
If you live in a cooler climate that receives a significant amount of snow, do yourself a favor and pick up a set of high-quality snow tires. These tires are designed with a very aggressive tread pattern that can cut through snow and slush, significantly improving your traction in either driving condition. Not only are these tires more efficient at gripping snowy roads, but the rubber used to create them is designed to perform well in very cold conditions. That means it will flex and grip the roads more effectively than the rubber of all-season tires.
Another feature of snow tires is attachment points for snow spikes or chains, giving you even more grip in icy and snowy conditions. You really can’t beat the performance of these tires in cold climates, just make sure you take them off before it warms up or you will wear them out very quickly.
Buying two sets of tires is an excellent way to enhance the performance of your vehicle. You will have to purchase a separate set of wheels for these tires as well unless you are willing to pay to remount them at every change of season.
Even though it can be a hassle to buy and maintain two different sets of tires, the performance improvements that this move offers makes it worth it, especially in climates that receive a substantial amount of snow. Using tires appropriate for the season will increase your safety and decrease how often you have to buy tires.
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