The type of tires on your vehicle can make a big difference in terms of handling, grip and safety. Winter snow tires are recommended by many experts who drive in cold and icy conditions; but are snow tires really that different than all-seasons? Read on to find out.
The image to the right is an example of a winter tire tread. Winter tires are designed to stay soft and grippy - even at the coldest temperatures. They feature a tread that wicks away slush and snow in order to prevent grip loss.
The image to the right shows the typical tread of all season tires. Notice that it is much less aggressive than winter tires. The all-season tread provides better performance on dry asphalt, but it does not have the tread features of the winter tire that clear slush and snow out of the tire tread.
When Should You Change to Winter Tires?
You should change to winter tires before the snow even starts falling. The recommended temperature at which to switch to a winter tire is 7 degrees Celsius. The reason for this is because the rubber in an all-season tire starts to harden at that temperature, which results in less traction. Winter tires stay grippy at extremely cold temperatures.
Winter tires do cost a fair amount of money. Expect to pay around $800 or more for a brand new set. Costs can be reduced drastically by purchasing a used set from your local classifieds. Just make sure to check that the threads have adequate life remaining.
How do They Compare?
When it comes to grip and safety in slush and snow, the winter tire is vastly superior to the all-season tire. The all-season tire simply cannot compete with the level of winter performance that winter tires offer. The absolute safest thing you can do to make your vehicle ready for the winter is install a quality set of winter tires. It is highly recommended for safe winter driving.
In the warmer months, winter tires will wear out more quickly and be noisier then an all-season tire. For best results, have a set of all-season and winter tires which you alternate between each year.