Why You Need Winter Tires

Why You Need Winter Tires

With the temperatures dropping and snow falling, winter tires can’t be ignored as an important part of staying safe in slippery conditions.

Despite the name, all-season tires are not appropriate for winter weather. In delivering a comfortable experience in a wide range of temperatures, all-season tires are far too compromised for adequate winter performance. Even with mud and snow ratings, all-seasons don’t compare in grip and performance to real winter tires which feature the mountain and snowflake symbol on their sidewalls.

“In earlier years when a tire had the M+S symbol on the side we would say it was fit for use in mud and snow,” Rene Wolters of Vredestein Tyres said. “Most all-season tires have this M+S marking on the side, but do not nearly perform as a winter tire should.”

Winter tires are specifically made to handle snow and ice. For example, thanks to special construction of the rubber compound, snow doesn’t stick in the grooves of a winter tire.

“A true winter tire performs much better than that and can be recognized by a symbol on its side depicting a little mountain top with a snowflake. Only tires with this symbol are suitable for use in true winter conditions,” Wolters said before emphasizing that “most All-season tires do not have this marking and are not fit for adequate use in the winter.”

He points out that the materials that make a tire stickier at low temperatures make them less grippy at higher temperatures. That means that winter tires are specially made for snowy seasons, while all-seasons are not made for any season in particular.

“Another important element in winter tires is siping,” Bridgestone product manager Kurt Berger said. Sipes are grooves that are cut into a tire’s tread block. “Siping is a major contributor to a winter-tire’s performance. It allows the tire to gain additional ‘biting edges’ for better grip.”

Depending on its placement, siping can affect noise, traction, water-removal and overall driving feel. A tire with straight, wide grooves will tend to have good anti-hydroplaning characteristics and should be less noisy than other tires. A tire with more lateral grooves will have more traction. However, too much siping and the tire can feel less stable and is likely to wriggle around on dry roads. Zig-zag siping patterns are another approach. Some of Bridgestone’s tires, for example, use that pattern, something Berger said enhances grip while corners.

Different types of Tires for Winter

Choosing the right winter tires isn’t easy. It helps to know if you’ll be dealing with icier driving conditions, or more snow. While no winter tire is designed specifically for ice, or snow, there are tires that cater more to one situation. Tires that are more suited for ice are made of a different chemical compound called silica which keeps the rubber flexible in colder climates. This results in better performance on ice, and it’s also likely that the tread on these tires will help keep noise down. Overall, tires that are made for ice will be better for drivers who spend a lot of time on freeways.

In contrast, snow biased winter tires have wider gaps between tread blocks, and are a bit stiffer. This makes them better at traversing up mounds of snow. “Snow grips to snow” explains Berger.

Some designs are shared between different types of winter tires.

“We found that in winter driving, a thin film of water lubricates the tire,” Berger explains, “So our ‘Multicell’ tread compound uses microscopic pores to help get rid of that water.” This technology is great for both snow and ice conditions.

Why take the chance?

Tires are the way a car interacts with the road. Even the latest high-tech safety systems, from advanced all-wheel drive to stability control, will be rendered useless if your car has no grip. When the road is all icy, or covered with slippery snow, you need a tire that can deal with those situations.

Winter tires feature specially designed tread patterns that provide more surface area to contact the road and provide superior grip.

Even cars with all-wheel drive should consider winter tires. All-wheel drive systems might help with stability in slippery conditions, but they won’t do much when you need to stop. Driving on a slope with no traction on your wheels, even with an all-wheel drive system can still prove to be dangerous. A set of winter tires provides the grip necessary to drive safely in any situation involving snow and ice.

Plenty of studies have been conducted to see how important winter tires are. A recent study conducted in Canada showed that no matter the vehicle, winter tires greatly decrease braking distances over all-seasons. In fact, one study showed when a car is travelling just 30 mph in winter conditions, that winter tires can reduce your stopping distance by up to 25 percent, or between two to three car lengths.

Some drivers think that they can get away with just using two winter tires, to be put on a cars driving wheels. This is a big mistake and can be dangerous in the snow. “Using a different set of tires on front than the rear can cause problems when cornering,” said Berger. He explained that when two different sets of tires are used, one end of the vehicle will likely lose traction during cornering situations.

A big concern about winter tires is when to put them on. All-season tires lose effectiveness at around 45 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about the same time you can see your breath. As soon as you start noticing your breath in the wind, its time to switch tires.

  • http://twitter.com/BradleyGroot Bradley Groot

    It is just a little bit snowy in Winnipeg tonight, but you’ve convinced me to put on the winter tires this weekend, and I’m gonna change the oil.  

    I don’t use a safety jack/s so I’m always a little bit scared the car will fall on me/ground. I mean it’s a good hydraulic jack and it’s really not lifting that much lifting two tires off the ground, the cars got a good under-body, lots of places to jack from, all super stable, Ford actually makes this car super easy to work on. even like getting the oil drain plug and the filter, tons of space to move your arms around. But still, I’m on the ground and I’m never quite sure where i put that wrench. I think I’m going to wash the car first, but I want the underbody washed, but I already have a full tank of gas, and the gas station gives a huge discount on the automatic car wash(that does underbody(well)) IF you get a tank of gas, which I am already full on. So now I gotta go to the manual car wash… the car is pretty low to the ground so I really got to bend over to get the wand under it, then it’s like I’m getting sorta covered in water from the splash back. This is like two clothes changes I have to do to get the tires and oil changed. THEN I need to clean the summer tires before I store them away. So a hassle but those blizzaks are SO good in the snow, so much fun to have so much traction in the snow with a rear wheel drive car, it’s like you have 800hp and everything is in slow motion, doing like 20-40km/h through deep snow.

  • Dave M

     Brad: You should SERIOUSLY get some jack stands. They’re only few bucks. No sense risking your life crawling under a car to change the oil. Your life is worth more than the price of some a couple of jack stands.

  • Soyntgo4it

    Snow tires are for people who can’t drive even then they still can’t…

  • Felix James

    100% not true. That’s like saying race car drivers don’t need racing tires. The proper tires give the proper grip each situation.

  • Soyntgo4it

    Lmao my comment is 110% true..

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked