Do I really need winter tires? Winter vs. all-season tires
Many of today’s vehicles leave the factory with all-season tires. While all-season tires are intended to provide traction in a wide variety of weather conditions, they don’t offer the best traction when you drive in snow or ice.
If you compare the difference between all-season tires and winter or snow tires in real-world situations, you can feel the difference in acceleration, braking, handling and experience the reason snow tires are necessary if you drive in snow at least three times a year.
So, who needs winter tires?
If you live in the upper half of North America, it makes total sense to invest in winter or snow tires. Many drivers think that if their vehicle has 4WD or AWD that they don’t need winter tires. This is false. All-season tires are designed for general use, but not for winter. In snow and ice conditions, they only provide minimal traction in diagonal handling, as well as shorter braking distances. Winter tires are designed like a snow boot; they offer better traction that regular tires can’t offer in snow and ice. Even if you have traction control and all the new handling technologies offered in today’s cars, winter tires should be mandatory on your to-do list.
The cost of winter tires is generally close to, if not less than, replacement tires on your vehicle.
What should I look for in a winter tire?
Winter tires are marked with a mountain-and-snowflake symbol on the sidewall of the tire. That symbol indicates that the tire is designed specifically for use in cold weather and severe snow conditions.
Checking your tire pressures once a month against the number on the sticker inside your drivers door will give you the best results and fuel economy. By doing this simple and free exercise in the morning when the tires are cold, you will get the most for your money. With months of winter driving ahead, don’t let all-season tires hold you back.
Finally, some tire stores will store your summer or winter tires and wheels if you swap them there too for a minimal fee. That can make the whole process less of a hassle.