Does Your Car Need Snow Tires?

Thanks to technological advances, snow tires have evolved from thick, waffled monstrosities to streamlined alternatives that offer just as much traction and grip. For many drivers, the only issue that remains is sacrificing handling. That is, while snow tires allows the rubber on your wheels to grip the road more easily, they also siphon the amount of handling control that you’ll experience. In effect, the choice is safety versus performance (an easy decision for most people). In this article, I’ll answer a few common questions about winter wheels, so you can more easily decide if you need to purchase them.

What Makes Them Different?

You may have noticed the treads on your wheels, but have never taken the time to examine them. Their job is to provide traction by gripping the pavement (or, whatever surface you’re driving on). Snow tire treads are designed with a special pattern that allows them to dig into and grab the surface. They’re also designed with a soft, pliable rubber that can better withstand extreme cold than conventional alternatives.

Can They Be Used All Year Round?

Yes, but don’t do it. Here’s why: the reason why snow tires can perform so well in icy conditions is because the treads dig deeply into the ice. Now, keep in mind that the rubber used to create them is soft. If you keep them on while driving in warm weather, the soft rubber will wear down quickly on the pavement. When that happens, the treads will become far less effective. You’re better off replacing them with your normal wheels when the ice on the road melts away. That way, when winter approaches next year, you’ll have a great set of treads ready to install.

What About All-Weather Options?

They help, but not much. All-weather tires have to conform to the needs of winter and summer. Cold and hot. In doing so, their effectiveness for both seasons is diluted. They can’t use the soft rubber that helps winter wheels grip the ice. And they can’t use the hard rubber that’s best for driving during the warm months. So, they use something in between. Unfortunately, the way they’re designed prevents them from doing the best job when there’s ice and snow on the road.

Here’s the bottom line: snow tires improve your wheels’ ability to grip the surface on which you’re driving. When there’s a lot of ice on the ground, that represents a huge boost in safety. Yes, installing them will take away from the handling performance that you’re used to enjoying while driving. But, when safety is a factor, the sacrifice is worth it.

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