Your knuckles are actually white as you grip the steering wheel – and it’s not just because it’s cold. The wind is equally blowing strong from the north, polishing the roads to a deceptively dull shine. You struggle to have control of your car as that strong north wind keeps pushing you around. You will need to slow down even more, but you don’t attempt hit the brake pedal. You don’t intend to lock the brakes up and slide.
If you have driven in a cold climate with ice and snow as a regular part of winter life, this scenario will not seem strange. It’s common for even the most experienced driver to make small driving mistakes that can turn into costly accidents, or even yet, injuries. In the past decade, snow tires – equally commonly referred to as winter tires – have gotten increasingly popular for states that experience long, snowy winters.
Snow tires grip the icy road better than the all-season tires. They offer better traction on acceleration, but most importantly they drastically lower the stopping distance when braking when compared with their all-season and other summer tire competitor.
What is Special about Snow Tires
Tire manufacturers have given different grades of rubber tires for a century. The tires have had different uses based on their make-up, and snow tires are no different. Snow tires are made to be softer than ordinary summer or all-season tires once the mercury drops. Their rubber compound has more silica which keeps the tire from hardening to t firmness.
Winter tires are made with many more sipes than all-season tires. Sipes are the small lines visible in each tread block around a tire. As the sipes make contact with the icy road surface, they open up and grip like hundreds of tiny fingers on your tire. The softness of the rubber maakes for the sipes to open wider than all-season tires.
There are a wide array of snow tires by many different manufacturers. Some brands have tire brands that can be studded. Studs can be put into small cavities in the tread blocks of the tire, and act as picks into an icy surface. The stud is made of an extremely hard tungsten carbide pin housed in a metal jacket, and protrude a mere millimeter from the tread. The stud bites into an icy surface for enhanced traction.
When Should you Use Snow Tires
An ordinary all-season tire begins to harden and lose effective grip at temperatures at or below 44 degrees fahrenheit, or 7 degrees celsius. The tire moves from pliable to hard, and isn’t able to grip the road surface well. Winter tires are soft and pliable at much lower temperatures, down to minus 40 fahrenheit and beyond. This implies they will continue to offer grip on icy and dry surfaces where all-season tires would not function well.
When should you discontinue with Snow Tires?
Since the snow tires are much softer than all-season or summer tires, warm driving weather conditions will cause them to wear out greatly faster. When the thermometer starts to reads 44 F consistently, it’s time to switch your tires back to all-seasons. Driving even a few thousand miles in warm spring or summer weather can literally wear your snow tires down to a level that will make it ineffective for the next cold season.
Are Snow Tires better and safer?
Your own safety, and the safety of your passengers, doesn’t necessarily rely on your vehicle. It depends on you as a driver. Snow tires dramatically improve your traction to the road, but they can’t prevent all the dangers of winter driving. As is the case even in warm weather, driving in a style that matches the road conditions is the only way to lower the danger. If you must drive in inclement weather, lower your speed and be weary of other drivers around you. If you have made the smart decision to mount your car with snow tires, be sure to give room for traffic around you that may not have snow tires mounted