Winter Tires

This topic has been beat to death over and over again. Yet still for some God unknown reason people continue to neglect to use winter tires on their vehicles. For some reason people continue to buy into the b.s. hype that all season tires are perfectly fine for all types of driving no matter what the weather or temperature is.

This logic could not be further from the truth and unless your tires have the moutain and snowflake symbol located on the sidewall (there are very few “all-season” branded tires that do, such as Nokian WR’s) than they are not properly suited for the cold weather. That’s right, notice I said Cold Weather and not snow. This is a common misconception that many people have that leads them to believe that they do not need winter tires; and that misconception is that winter tires are for the snow only. Not true.

Winter tires are used for the cold weather in an effort to give you more grip on the roads that have seen below freezing temperatures. So if a “winter tires” main purpose is not to drive in the snow, what is the difference between an all season tire and a winter tire?
The answer: The rubber compound used in the contruction of the tire.

Take your all season tires and take the temperature down to 7*C (44*F) and the rubber compound on the all season tires starts to stiffen up and become harder. Your tires are essentially becoming hockey pucks. This means loss of traction on both acceleration and brakeing. The acceleration may not matter to most individuals that much, but any loss of brakeing ability can be the difference between life and death/accident or no accident on the road.

Facts:

  • All season tire rubber stiffens up and begins becoming hard like a hockey puck below 7*C (44*F). For those of us that remember hockey pre NHL lockout, you know how well a puck slides across cold, slick surfaces.
  • A dedicated winter tire has a more aggressive tread pattern than a standard all season tire. Although a winter tires sole purpose is for added grip in the cold weather, the aggressive tread pattern these tires possess will help you also obtain/maintain better traction in the snow and on ice.
  • Putting on winter tires should not be based on whether or not it is going to snow. Once the seasons weather begins to get close to freezing temperatures, winter tires should be put on the vehicle.
  • Many insurance companies will offer a discount to you if you call and notify them that your vehicle is equipped with winter tires during the colder months.
  • For individuals who lease vehicles, buying a set of winter tires and selling them when you trade in your vehicle will most often net you 70-75% of your money back. If the average winter tires cost $800 and you recover 75% of your money selling them. It has costed you a total of $200 over your 4 year lease, to own and safely drive your vehicle on winter tires. That’s $50 a year to be safe. My insurance company offers an $80 a year discount to use winter tires. Think about that.

Misconceptions:

  • My vehicle has AWD or 4WD so I don’t need winter tires.
    Wrong, your vehicle may have AWD and 4wd which will help you significantly with acceleration, but your vehicle does not reverse apply that technology when it comes to stopping your vehicle which is where the real danger lies. 99% of the time an accident will occur because you could not stop in time or are unable to make a defensive manouever due to loss of traction, not because your acceleration was impeded.
  • It’s too expensive to get another set of tiresIt actually isn’t. While you are using your winter tires, your other set of tires that you own are not “wearing out” and similarily, while you are using your other tires, your winter tires are not wearing out. You are essentially doubling the amount of time you’ll use both sets of tires.
  • I upgraded my brakes/ I have a top end luxury car with big brakes, I can stop no matter what.
    Food for thought– Brand new lexus vehicles utilize a 13.1″ brake rotor and 17-18″ rims/tires, nascar uses a 12.72″ brake rotor with a 15″ rim/tire. What am I getting at here? The tire on your vehicle ultimately determines the performance your car will have when it comes to brakeing and manouevering. It is the only thing that is between you, your family and the road.

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