The Best Tires for Wintertime Driving
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.