All-season tires can handle just about anything. The exceptions are heavy snow and temperatures that regularly dip below the 45 degree Fahrenheit mark. The solution is to get a second set of winter tires, also called snow tires, to get you through the colder months. In the United States, snow tires are marked by a three-peaked mountain with a snowflake inside. In some parts of the country, particularly in the snow belt, winter tires are mandatory. Below are four reasons why buying these cold-friendly tires is a smart move.
Winter Tires Provide Better Traction
You get the best tire traction when the rubber is soft and malleable. The slight "give" allows your vehicle to dig deeper into snow or ice covered roadways. The treads tend to have more jagged patterns and sharper edges that also help grip the road. Winter tires, also called snow tires, have more sipes, the thin slits carved across the treads. Some even have metal studs to help with traction. Winter tire treads also typically perform better on dry roadways where the temperature is extremely and consistently cold.
Snow Tires Require Shorter Stopping Distances
According to Consumer Reports, tests done in both Connecticut and Vermont showed that winter tires outperformed the all-season tires in stopping ability. When compared, the snow tires took between 13 and 16 feet less roadway to come to a complete stop. That's between two and three average car lengths and could be enough to avoid an accident.
Experience Improved Acceleration with Winter Tires
When the engine transfers power to the drive train, winter tires make more efficient use of that energy. By being able to better grip the road, cars are able to accelerate more quickly. Tests on acceleration efficiency were performed in the same two New England states, based on how long many feet it took to get from 5 to 20 miles per hour. The winter tires averaged roughly 86 feet to get up to speed, while the all-seasons took nearly 105 feet.
Maximize All-Wheel-Drive Performance with Snow Tires
Even your SUV or 4X4 can benefit from snow tires. In modern vehicles, all-wheel-drive systems are usually computerized. The system senses a low-traction situation, such as a patch of ice, and automatically sends corrections to the drive train. By using winter tires with their increased traction capabilities, you make that AWD system much more efficient. In some cases, the increased grip of snow tires reduces the number of "last minute" control corrections needed.