14 Reasons to Use Winter Tires
As we approach the winter season, you may be questioning some of the differences between all-season, all-weather, and winter tires. Contrary to what their name suggests, all-season tires only suit summer, fall, and spring driving conditions.
On the other hand, all-weather tires are good for some winter conditions, but they are better suited for the kinds of winters where torrential rains and slush are your main winter concerns, rather than the kinds of winter conditions experienced here in Manitoba.
Although most drivers assume that standard all-season tires are perfect for year-round driving, that is only true if you live in a temperate climate. We live in a place where it snows and experience constant temperatures of sub-20 degree Centigrade, Therefore a set of specialized winter tires will dramatically enhance your safety during our coldest months.
Whereas new all-season tires can offer high traction during winter, their performance is nearly equivalent to the half-worn winter tires. On the other hand, half-worn all-season tires are totally unsuitable for winter driving on icy and snowy roads.
When it comes to real snowy, cold, and icy winter conditions, nothing else compares to a perfect set of winter tires. Let’s look at 14 reasons to use winter tires.
1. Stay Soft In Freezing Temperatures
While it is the tire treads that you will notice quickly, an essential part of the winter tire is its rubber compound that is designed to remain soft in freezing temperatures. The winter tire also sticks to the road by conforming to the minute imperfections.
Soft rubber treads of the winter tires can splay out and wrap themselves around the minute protrusions on a cold pavement, or on a surface what may look like a perfectly smooth ice. All summer tires that are designed to work in warm temperatures and they harden as the temperature decreases. All-seasons tires designed for the year-round use can’t match winter tires in freezing temperatures.
2. Proper Stopping Distance
All-season tires are a hazardous choice during winter. On the ice, snow or cold pavement, the vehicle’s stopping distance with the winter tires can be up to 30-40% shorter than one with all-season tires. Since the force which causes a crash rises as the square of the impact speed, this could mean a huge difference between life and death.
3. Maximum Traction
It is about temperature, not snow. You should install winter tires when you expect the temperatures to fall to 7 degrees Celsius or below. As the temperature drops, the rubber in all-season and summer tires becomes inflexible, reducing traction significantly. However, winter tires are designed to provide maximum traction in freezing temperatures,
Use common sense and watch the thermometer, since nobody will tell you exactly when to install your winter snow tires (unless you live in a region such as Quebec, where the law dictates that you install snow tires on your vehicle between December 15 and March 15).
4. Good Performance Of Premium Winter Tires
Premium winter tires often perform better than the standard models. What you are paying for is the latest in tread design and rubber technology. What you get is traction which may be up to 15 percent better than the standard winter tires. (If you need to know the difference between various grades of the winter tires, make a visit to an ice race. The drivers who have installed premium tires are often all out front. There is no comparison.)
5. Maximum Contact With The Surface
The design of winter tires enables them to move water away efficiently. As the tire presses ice or snow on the road, it melts the top film, developing a thin layer of water (a similar phenomenon which happens as a skate glides across the rink).
If the water does not move away from the space in front of a tire, the vehicle will hydroplane. Therefore, winter tires have grooves (including small channels called “sipes”) which move water away to the sides, enabling the tire to remain in contact with the road surface.
6. Low Hydroplaning
The winter tires you choose need to be narrower than the summer models. Car experts recommend that you reduce one or two sizes when installing your winter tires. For instance, if your vehicle came with the 215-mm wide summer tires, then you should go for 205 mm or 195 mm wide winter tires. Lowering the width of the tire increases the pressure it exerts on the surface under it – this assists the tire slice through ice or snow and minimizes hydroplaning.
7. Great Braking And Cornering Capabilities
All-wheel drive assists you accelerate, not to stop. On the slippery surfaces, cars with a four-wheel driving system can accelerate much better than those with two-wheel drive. But their braking and cornering capabilities are little different than the two-wheel-drive model.
When you are trying to turn or stop, the traction capabilities of your tires determine the limits, not the number of driven wheels. Winter tires offer maximum braking and help you to navigate corners very well.
8. Enhanced Performance Of The Winter Tires Over The Past Decade
The performance of the winter tires has been improved significantly over the previous decade by advanced rubber compounds which allow designers to come up with softer tires without sacrificing other essential properties, including heat buildup and wear as temperatures climb. Many manufacturers spend a high amount of money on R&D. These companies have a significant number of compounds in the ongoing quest for the perfect winter tires.
9. Regain Control And Maintain Traction
Black ice isn’t a death sentence. Ideal winter tires can stick to the glare ice, but only if they’re still within their traction limits. If your vehicle starts to slide, look straight down the icy road to where you should go, and maintain a light grip on the wheels.
As the vehicle decelerates, you’ll regain control gradually since the rubber of the tire starts gripping the surface imperfections on the glare ice. With gentle control inputs and slow speed, you’ll be able to maintain traction.
10. All-Round Grip To Offer Increased Bite
Some manufacturers provide winter tires which use rubber mixed with hard materials (such as chopped nylon strands and crushed walnut shells) to offer increased bite. While these can provide better traction in some conditions, essential factors in the all round grip of a winter tire are the quality of its tread design and rubber compound.
11. Enhanced Stability Due To Closely Spaced Grooves
In the past, manufacturers developed winter tires with deep, aggressive treads to paddle through deep snow. However, it compromised stability and made a noisy ride because the treads deflected under acceleration, cornering, and braking loads.
Modern winter tire technology mainly focuses on developing shallower treads with tightly spaced grooves which carry away the water film formed as the tire presses the snow or ice on the road.
12. Very Effective On Cold, Bare Pavement
Studded tires are much less efficient than winter tires on cold, bare pavement (where many drivers spend the most of their time during winter months) although they provide an advantage on the glare ice. Winter tires, on the other hand, offer the huge advantage since it can work very well in both conditions.
13. An All-Inclusive Design
Even though testing makes it a bit easy to determine the performance benefits of the winter tires (you stop faster), the technology behind it is quite complex. Winter tire designers must put into consideration many factors, including the hysteresis (a process which produces heat as the tire deforms and repeatedly recovers while it rotates under the car weight) and tread stability.
14. Adjustment During Emergencies
Although car experts do not recommend for daily driving, lowering the air pressure in your tires can assist you to gain in an emergency situation. Reducing pressure of your tire increases the contact patch of the tire. For instance, it may help you to make it up an impassable icy grade.
Remember that this is an emergency technique only, and will lower overall control of your vehicle by reducing the stability of the tire carcass. Unless you are stuck at the bottom of an icy hill without any option to explore, you need to use the inflation pressures recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. If you reduce tire pressures to regain stability out of an emergency situation, then drive slowly and reinflate your tires to the recommended pressure as quickly as possible. So there you have it our 14 reasons to use winter tires