It’s August 26th. The endless hot and humid summer days are starting to dissipate and hoodies at night are coming back. The summer is dying. I know, it’s horrible news, but it’s true. Good news? Pumpkin spice lattes. But I’m not here to wax poetic about the changing colors of the leaves or the crunch of frosty grass underfoot, I am here today to talk about winter tires — also known as snow tires. The cold weather is coming!
Winter/snow tires don’t look drastically different than regular tires: they have much wider, deeper grooves in the tread. They also have softer rubber which allows the tire to expand more easily in frigid temperatures. However, the handling, acceleration, and braking is drastically different in winter and snow tires vs. all-season tires. The most common misconception about winter tires is that they are most efficient in the snowy northeast. This is not entirely untrue, but in climates where icing is more common than snow (like here in the beautiful city of Richmond, Virginia), winter tires are much more helpful. They prevent slippage on ice. Driving on snow is easier and safer than driving on ice. So whether you face plentiful snow or nasty black ice in the town you live in, please consider investing in winter tires for months in which the average temperature is 7 degrees celsius or below (check out our handy infographic).
Most cars and trucks are factory-outfitted with all-season tires, which work well in a wide range of weather and temperatures. Ice and snow, however, are not within this range. Therefore, even if you have an all wheel drive or four wheel drive vehicle, you will need winter tires during the winter. Another big no no: only replacing one or two of your all-season tires with snow tires. This will cause uneven wear on your tires, put unnecessary and unbalanced strain on your axles, and possibly cause serious problems with your alignment. Always, ALWAYS, replace all 4 tires with winter tires. Most auto body shops or tire shops provide inexpensive winter tire storage for a minimal fee, so you can switch them back and forth as often as you wish.