Winter tires are designed for maximum traction in severe winter conditions by using specially formulated compound and polymer blends to keep the rubber flexible for maximum performance during extreme temperatures. The tread is far more aggressive and they’re designed specifically to channel snow, slush, and water away from the tire for maximum grip. Winter tires are designed to perform in temperatures as low as -40° before hardening, whereas all-season tires can begin to harden at -7° C (19° F). That’s why it’s important to change to winter tires as soon as temperatures drops to around 7° C consistently.
All-season tires are original equipment on most vehicles and they provide traction on ice and snow IF driven carefully, but these tires would be better named “three-season” tires. They work well in spring, summer and fall, but don’t provide the ultimate traction, grip and handling that performance tires do on dry pavement – and certainly nowhere near the traction of a true winter tire on snow and ice. When it comes to winter driving, all-season tires are full of compromises.
Customer like to justify not buying winter tires because of the price…so lets say you saved $700 this winter, by not buying winter tires. Let’s say your driving down the road in your all-season tires and come across a icy patch. All-seasons aren’t designed for control on ice so you go sliding into the curb. The bill from a curbed car adds up quick! You aren’t hurt as it was just a light collision but the weight of the vehicle slamming into the curb bent your rim and your wheel is pointing the opposite direction of where your steering wheel is pointing…yikes! If you have a black steel wheel, you might have a bill of about $100 to get a new one, but a factory alloy wheel from the dealership could cost you up to $1200! Not to mention you can’t drive away from the incidence…there’s another $200 to the two truck. Then you’ll have to rent a vehicle for a least a day, while yours is in the shop…there’s another $75-$100. So, saved $700 but you’re out anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. If you didn’t get winter tires put on after your little curb-hop, you could do this all over again next week!
Buy the winter tires and cheap rims and save yourself a lot of aggravation, time and money. Remember the winter tires will be good for several winters – not just one, so you’ll be spreading the cost over 4 – 6 winters, that’s only around $100 per winter for “insurance” – that’s a no-brainer!
Can I just buy two tires?
Believe it or not, we aren’t trying to up-sell you when they say you should purchase 4 new tires. There is a reason for it.
Some drivers install only two winter tires on the drive wheels, thinking that will give them enough traction to get out of a snow bank or up an icy hill, not to mention saving some money. True – winter tires on the drive wheels will improve the vehicle’s chance of getting un-stuck, but a big safety problem arises when using only two winter tires: poor handling. With winter tires on the drive axle and all-season/performance tires on the other axle, the vehicle will tend to become unstable and swap ends under some conditions.
For example, if the vehicle is front-wheel drive (FWD), with two winter tires on the front axle, the back end of the car may try to swap ends with the front during hard braking such as emergency or panic stops. The vehicle spins exactly when you need the most control.
Rear-wheel drive (RWD) vehicles with winter tires only on the rear axle will tend to “push” or not turn into a corner. Even though the vehicle can accelerate, steering control is compromised, so avoiding an object or another vehicle or pedestrian on the road could be difficult.
Winter tires will also provide superior braking on slippery surfaces, resulting in maintaining control of the vehicle – even if it does have ABS.
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