Four versus two winter tires: Which is Best?
If you live in an area that experiences snowy or icy conditions in the winter months, hitting the road means paying close attention to conditions and adjusting your driving accordingly. Driving slower, braking easier, and allowing more distance between vehicles are all ways to stay safe, but possibly the most important thing to do is to install winter or “snow” tires.
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Winter tires, also known as “snow tires” and “ice tires”, are tires that have been designed and manufactured specifically to perform well under winter conditions. Winter tires are different from other tires in both their tread and the kind of rubber that they are made of. The rubber that is used to create winter tires is softer than tires that are used in summer conditions. The softer rubber grips ice and snow better than other tires and does not harden in cold conditions. This means when it’s cold Winter tires will grip the road better even in clear, dry conditions.
The tread on snow tires is also much different than the tread on other types of tires. First of all, Winter tires have more grooves than most others. Like the soft rubber, these grooves also help the tires to grip snowy and icy roads.
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On front-wheeled-drive vehicles, winter tires must be fitted in complete sets of four tires. If high traction snow tires are mounted on the front and lower traction tires are mounted on the rear, the rear of the vehicle can lose traction during cornering or braking on snow or ice and spin out. This is a difficult condition for most drivers to control. Snow tires on all wheel positions will provide the most effective and safest winter driving.
Its best to replace all four tires with winter tires because differences in tire size and wear can negatively affect a car’s handling and stability. A modern snow tire can provide up to 20 percent better snow traction than an all-season design. A well designed winter tire provides a tangible seat-of-the-pants performance advantage over all-season tires in both snow and ice conditions. This includes better initial hookup, shorter braking distances, and cornering that’s both more predictable and controllable.