Buying Winter Tires

For those considering winter tires, here are some quick and helpful facts to help you make an informed decision and determine whether they are right for you.

Tread Compound & Design

Most winter tires feature specialized tread compounds and advanced tread designs that help provide superior traction and stopping distance. In a contest between all-season and winter tires, winter tires improved braking performance by up to 20%. And tests in snow conditions revealed that vehicles with winter tires stopped around 28 feet shorter than the same vehicle with all-season tires. Winter tires tend to have better traction and handling in colder temperatures. The tread compound maintains its flexibility, which allows for enhanced grip on snow and ice.

Road Conditions

In addition to harsh winter weather, if you encounter many hills or sharp corners in your area, you might want the winter-ready traction and control of winter tires. Additionally, unplowed snow, slush or ice can be a hazard to you when driving, and winter tires can help you face that challenge.

Weather Conditions

Many people wonder how harsh the weather needs to be in order to get winter tires. The general consensus is that if you live in a place where the temperature is consistently below 45F/7.2C, or when you must drive in challenging winter conditions, winter tires may be a good choice for you. While all-season tires can provide some traction for wet and snowy conditions, there is no denying the enhanced traction and grip that winter tires provide to help create a safer and more comfortable driving winter experience.

Performance

When shopping for tires, keep in mind that your vehicle's starting, stopping and turning abilities ultimately come down to the amount of traction your tires can offer on snowy or icy road surfaces.

Winter Tire Facts & Safety Tips

Here are a few simple tips and facts that you should keep in mind when driving with winter tires.

  • To help maintain stability and control of your vehicle in severe snow conditions, the RMA (Rubber Manufacturers Association) recommends installing winter tires in sets of fours.
  • Even if you have traction control or four-wheel drive on your vehicle, these features can offer a false sense of security in winter conditions. Traction control/ABS are designed for vehicle stability, power transmission and controlled braking. They do NOT optimize traction or grip during all types of winter driving maneuvers.
  • The Severe Snow Conditions Symbol located on the sidewall of a tire indicates a tire that meets a snow traction standard recognized by the RMA (Rubber Manufacturers Association). Remember to look for the Severe Snow Conditions Symbol when shopping for winter tires.

Owning Winter Tires

Winter tires, also known as snow tires, are not made for year-round use. Keep your winter tires on your vehicle until the driving conditions have improved and the temperature is consistently above 45F/7.2C. Then, replace them with either summer or all-season tires. Also, if your winter tires have reached a remaining tread depth of approximately 4/32nds, you should consider replacing them before the next winter season.

Once you have removed your winter tires, you'll have to store them until next winter. It is important to keep them in a cool, dry location (ideally in a basement or garage). Keeping them in the heat can be detrimental to the rubber compound. It is also recommended to store your winter tires in black storage bags, in order to help prevent the rubber from drying or cracking.