Why You Should Have Winter Tires on Your Car

By Paul Riegler on 14 December 2016
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The cold temperatures in the northeastern United States have made it clear that winter is upon us. The sun has already started to set later, another sign of the need to change tires.

While most cars in the United States today come fitted with what are referred to as “all-season tires,” the fact is that all-season tires are a compromise and FBT Editorial Director Jonathan Spira is known to refer to them as “no-season tires” as a result.

While it’s never wise to drive during a blizzard, once the snow ends and the roads are plowed, drivers with winter tires will be at a distinct advantage on the roads.

Indeed, while many countries around the globe mandate the use of winter tires in colder weather, the United States does not. In Germany, where my family is from, the annual change from summer to winter tires is understood to be as important as resetting clocks.

Today’s winter tires are more advanced than ever. Unlike all-season tires, their rubber compound is optimized for frigid weather and driving on ice and snow.

A car with four winter tires, even a rear-wheel drive vehicle, will exhibit much better traction than a four-wheel drive car fitted with all-season tires. Winter-tire equipped cars stop more quickly and corner faster. Indeed, studies have shown that winter tires can improve braking by 25% and that having winter tires reduces the likelihood of an accident by as much as 38%.

Tests conducted by Transport Canada and the Rubber Association of Canada found that winter tires offer 50% more traction than all-season tires. In addition, the study confirmed that, in temperatures below 45° F (7° C), all-seasons and especially summer tires harden and lose traction. By contrast, winter tires retain their elasticity and grip at the lower temperatures.

BOTTOM LINE

If you haven’t yet put on (or purchased) your own set of winter tires, it’s not too late. But do it soon – having them on order won’t help you when the next winter storm hits.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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