When the first snow arrives, many drivers face the decision of whether or not to use winter tires on their vehicles.
While each type of tire has unique benefits, the question remains. Which style is best on the ice? What we’ve found may cause you to rethink your wheels when the forecast changes.
Today, we’ll help you choose the right setup for your winter driving needs.
Let’s get started!
What Are Winter Tires?
Winter tires are specifically for ice and snowy weather conditions. With a softer rubber compound, they can remain flexible in low temperatures. This allows them to provide a better grip on frozen roads. They also have deeper and more aggressive tread patterns to provide better traction in snow and slush.
In addition to their specialized design, they meet specific performance criteria for snow or ice. Some jurisdictions have laws that require the use of winter wheels during certain seasons or driving conditions. These regulations ensure safety for everyone while they drive.
How Are Winter Tires Different Than All Weather Tires?
Different treads perform differently in various weather conditions, including snowy weather. Winter tires provide better traction and handling in fresh powder or on ice. On the other hand, all-weather options offer decent performance in a wide range of circumstances.
Winter wheels typically have a more aggressive tread and softer rubber. However, these qualities can cause a shorter lifespan if used regularly on dry roads without snow, ice, or slush. They’re the best bet when there’s accumulation, but you’ll want all-season tires during moderate weather.
Pro Tip: If you want to go camping in the winter, make sure you know Can You Tow With Snow Tires?
The Benefits of Winter Tires
You want the right wheels on your vehicle for the weather conditions. If not, you could be setting yourself up for failure. Let’s look at a few benefits of using winter tires.
Better Grip on Ice and Snow
The increased grip is one of the biggest reasons many people choose winter tires. This is especially helpful if you live in an area that experiences tremendous amounts of ice and snow. The tread patterns in the rubber increase the grip on snow and ice. More aggressive tread makes it harder for snow and ice to pack into them.
In addition, some areas allow drivers to use studded treads. These specific types of winter wheels can drastically increase the grip, especially on ice. If you’ve driven on ice or snow before, you know how scary losing control behind the wheel can be.
Accelerating while driving is essential, but stopping is more important. Winter tires make it easier to hit the brakes during less-than-ideal conditions. Without them, there’s a chance you’ll roll on through an intersection instead of coming to a complete stop. Depending on the situation, this could put you and other drivers in a scary and dangerous situation.
Safety is vital when driving on snow and ice. If you want to protect yourself and you’re car, it’s hard to consider any other type of wheels.
Can Lower Insurance Premium
You may get a discount on your insurance for using winter tires. These specific wheels reduce accidents and increase safety during less-than-perfect weather conditions. Insurance companies like to minimize risks and reward drivers for doing so. This typically depends on where you live and your insurance company.
While the discounts offered won’t cover the total cost, they can help absorb some of the financial blow to your bank account. However, not all insurers offer these discounts. Check with your insurance provider before purchasing new winter wheels if this is important.
The Disadvantages of Winter Tires
While there are some benefits of winter tires, there are also disadvantages. Before you hop in your car to buy a new set of rubber, make sure you understand them.
Require Seasonal Replacement
It’s important to remember that these tires are for seasonal use. They may perform great on ice and snow, but using them on dry roads can cause severe damage. This means you’ll need to swap them out twice a year. Unfortunately, this can get expensive.
If you can’t replace them yourself, you’ll have to pay a professional to do it for you. It can cost over $75 each time you need to switch your tires. In addition, you’ll have to sit in the shop while they make the change. Depending on the number of customers, you could be left twiddling your thumbs for several hours.
Wear Out Faster
The rubber used for winter tires is much softer than the standard material. While it may increase grip, it naturally wears out faster. This is one of the main reasons why it’s essential to swap them out at the end of each season. If you delay, there’s a good chance you’ll be prematurely shopping for your next set.
Drivers can reduce the lifespan of their winter wheels by as much as 60% by using them during improper conditions. Unless you have a large stack of cash burning a hole in your pocket, you likely want to get the most life possible out of your wheels.
Can Damage Roads
The increased traction of the wheels can have some adverse effects. The treads can grip the road and cause damage. This is especially true if you’re driving on them during dry conditions.
Wheels with studs can cause damage to the roads that can lead to ruts in the surface. These ruts can allow snow and ice to build up and reduce safety for you and other drivers. It can also create potholes, which may cause serious damage to vehicles.
Winter tires are great for snow and icy conditions but aren’t ideal for dry weather. During these situations, they typically provide the opposite results of what drivers want from their wheels.
When the weather isn’t extreme, all-weather tires perform substantially better than their winter counterparts. If you only experience a handful of ice events in your area, a solid set of all-weather wheels may be your best option.
Pro Tip: We compared all of your options to determine Where Can You Buy the Best Tires?
Do Winter Tires Reduce Fuel Economy?
The softer rubber compound and more aggressive tread patterns of winter tires can reduce fuel economy. The improved traction in snow and ice can also increase rolling resistance, which decreases fuel efficiency. However, the impact is relatively small and can vary depending on wheel size, driving style, and road conditions.
To help improve gas mileage, drivers can add proper air pressure, reduce speeds, and avoid unnecessary idling or rapid acceleration. Additionally, it may be worth finding a brand with low rolling resistance, which helps save you at the pump without sacrificing performance.
Are Winter Tires Worth It?
Winter tires can be a valuable investment for drivers who live in areas that experience harsh weather. They can provide better traction and handling in snow and ice, significantly improving driving safety during the coldest months. You can drastically reduce braking distances on snowy or icy roads. However, they’re not a replacement for good driving practices in poor conditions.
Drivers should exercise caution and adjust their speed and driving habits to match the situation on the road. Don’t forget to maintain your vehicles to protect yourself during the winter months.
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