Your guide to winter tires

If you’re using a decent set of tires that are deemed to be made for all seasons, trouble may be lurking around a snowy corner.

Editor’s Note: Welcome Matt Fidisky. He’s the editor over at and now a guest writer for The Blog of Cars, here to provide you with valuable car advice.

All-season tires are misleading – the name implies that they could make it through any condition that comes their way, when in fact their treads are simply are not constructed for snow, slush and ice. When the temperature begins to drop below freezing, your regular tires can quickly lose their grip and send you spinning into a snow bank, or worse, another vehicle. Avoid accidents all year and respect good car care by changing your tires when drastic weather changes approach.

How Winter Tires Help

Winter tires are designed for road conditions that are often too wet and slippery for a strip of delicately etched rubber. Snow tires must be more flexible than the average tire, with deeper treads and more sipes, or thin slits across the surface. The flexibility of the softer rubber will help it stick to the ice in colder temperatures, and deeper treads will let the tire clear snow away as it rotates. These features will ultimately help you maintain control and decrease the distance it takes you to stop your vehicle, in turn keeping you and your car injury-free.

Winter tires are recommended for all vehicles, not just compact cars that tend to sway with the breeze. While some drivers are committed to changing their car tires when the November chill arrives, many SUV and pickup truck drivers stubbornly insist that their big all-seasons will do just fine. However, the off-road tread won’t cut it on icy pavement, and that heavy body may end up propelling you into a nearby wall or ditch even more quickly. Regardless of the specific vehicle you drive, purchase quality winter tires that are designed for your wheels.

Find the Right Winter Tires

There is no universal winter tire – the right one for your vehicle will depend on the make and model, as well as your budget and the particular driving conditions you’ll be facing. For extreme snow and ice, some areas legally allow you to use studded winter tires, though drivers in most locations will do fine with a good brand of winter tire that offers larger tread blocks and numerous sipes. Even if your car or truck has front-wheel drive, you should change all four tires at once and always ensure each tire has the same tread pattern.

Once you have your winter tires on, you’ll want to keep a close eye on their condition as the season progresses. Every time the temperature drops five degrees, your tires can lose a pound of air pressure, which can threaten their performance and your safety. Winter driving demands a lot of attention, so get your vehicle set up early and speak with an expert if you have questions. Good preparation will make for a fun and safe winter!

Image: caffeine_obsessed / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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