A How-To Guide to Winter Season Tires

When preparing a vehicle for wintertime driving, tires can easily be overlooked. But when it comes to icy and slushy roads, your tires are the point of contact, and so they should be your first concern when winterizing your car.

Most tires are called “all season” tires. For someone who lives in a warmer climate like that of Arizona or the middle of Texas, these tires may be okay for the winter season. For others like myself, who equate winter with blizzard, snow tires are needed to get through the winter.

All Season Tires vs. Snow Tires

The tread on snow tires is significantly deeper than on all season tires. Snow tires give the car more traction in the ice and snow, as the deeper treads can account for snow and slush that may get picked up. The makeup of the tire is even different¾the rubber is softer, giving it better traction in colder temperatures.

There are many reasons why all season tires might not be your first choice if winters where you live tend to be harsh. Some reasons are:

  • Performs average in every type of weather. When it comes down to trying to maneuver and stop on ice or snow, choose exceptional over average.
  • All season tires have a more inflexible rubber compared to snow tires. This makes the snow and ice become more packed on the tire, limiting traction.

Snow Tires 101

  • When spring rolls around, take off your snow tires. By the end of winter the tread has probably worn off, thus making driving on warm and dry roads dangerous.
  • If you’re looking for other options other than snow tires, studs or chains could be a solution. These will most likely be restricted in urban areas especially, so do not drive with studs or chains on your tires without first confirming their legality with local transportation officials.
  • If there is a snowflake symbol on the tire, you know it was inspected and has passed industry standards. These are tires that will withstand harsh winter conditions.
  • If your winter precipitation consists mostly of rain, snow tires may not the best choice. If you choose to stick to all season tires, remember to get them inspected and replaced if the tread is worn down.

November 19, 2012 by Jamie Rettig