Winter Tires -- Yes or No?
Remember the kind of winter weather we got here in central Tennessee a couple of years ago? It wasn’t much fun at all. When things really get bad, about the only way you can really get around is with winter tires.
But what is it that makes winter tires so great?
Chances are your car probably has all-season tires on it year-round…all-season tires are the biggest selling category of tires in the country. They offer a forgiving ride, low noise, good handling and road manners, and they can deliver great traction on dry or wet pavement. Unfortunately, all-season tires are a tradeoff…a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. When an inch or two of snow piles up on the pavement, all-season tires are usually going to raise the white flag as far as traction goes, and then you’re slippin’ and slidin’ your way around town.
Modern winter tires, on the other hand, are a far cry from the big, heavy, noisy “snow tires” that were on your dad’s Ford wagon back in the 70s. Today’s winter tires have road manners and ride quality that are comparable to the best all-season or touring tires. The big difference, however, is in traction.
Winter tires use a softer rubber formulation that stays flexible in subfreezing temperatures, conforming to snow and slush to deliver better grip and traction. All-season tires will tend to stiffen up in cold weather.
More importantly, though, winter tires feature deeper tread grooves that will dig into snow and slush better and constantly clean themselves as they turn, so there’s always a clean groove to dig into snow. They also are designed with a dense network of sipes, hair-thin slits in the tread face that help provide more biting edges in snow.
One thing to remember, though: the softer rubber compound of winter tires means much faster wear in warm weather. Remember to change your winter tires out when temperatures get to above 40 degrees or so.
At American Tire Company, we stock winter tires from top brands like Goodyear, Michelin, BFGoodrich and Uniroyal, in a wide variety of sizes for various fitments. Make an appointment with us before the snow starts flying!