Behind the Wheel

Are Snow Tires Worth It?

January 13, 2015
Sure, we just passed the official start of fall, but winter will be here before we know it! For that reason, I wanted to start talking about ways to get your car ready for the winter season. Because, unless you live in eternally-sunny spots of California or Florida, harsh winter weather can be really tough on your car! It can also endanger your safety, unless you know how to prevent problems. First up, I want to talk about snow tires! Some people opt for all-weather tires because they can be used all year long. But snow tires have special benefits that all-weather tires just don’t offer. So I’m here to talk about the pros and cons of snow tires, helping you determine if they’re worth it for you! BENEFITS OF SNOW TIRES
  • Amazing grip on the road. If you live in an area with heavy snow and ice, snow tires are undoubtedly far superior to all-weather tires, which are mainly made for rainy weather or very light snow. Snow tires are able to get a strong grip on icey roads because of their special rubber make up and deeper treads.
  • Better braking. Rather than skidding over the surface, snow tires will always dig into snow and ice to help brake as quickly and smoothly as possible. This is a vital feature when you’re on rough roads!
  • Endure cold weather. Even if you’re roads are always cleared quickly or you have a fairly snow-free winter, snow tires are beneficial to have in cold weather. As the temperatures drop, normal tires lose flexibility and grip, whereas snow tires are meant to endure cold temperatures. Experts recommend putting on snow tires when the temperatures drop into the 40 degree zone.
  • No hydroplaning. Snow tires are meant to push water away from the car. Their special design makes water move through the tire rather than fight against it. So when you find yourself in a rain storm or crossing melting snow, you’ll be much safer with snow tires.
  • Access to more areas. Some places like ski areas or mountain towns require snow tires on for driving by law. Hence, you’ll have access to more places if you have snow tires on your car, and will often be able to skip the chain requirement if you have good enough tires.
  • Comparable pricing. Thanks to advancing technology, snow tires now cost about the same amount as all-weather tires. So there’s no harm done to your wallet!
DISADVANTAGES OF SNOW TIRES
  • Not meant for year-round use. One of the most obvious downsides to getting winter tires is the fact that you have to buy a new set of tires and go to the trouble of switching them onto your car. It certainly requires some effort, but it’s usually worth it in the end!
  • Wear down faster. The materials used to make winter tires are prone to wearing down faster than normal tires. Because of the softer rubber, you shouldn’t drive with winter tires in warm weather, or they will lose their effectiveness.
  • Wear down roads. If everyone used winter tires year-round, our local roads would be in bad shape a whole lot faster. Winter tires have a larger tread and sometimes even have studs that can damage the road over time.
  • Tougher to handle. Though winter tires are amazing for intense snowy conditions and extreme cold, winter tires are tougher to handle in relatively calm conditions
Now that you’ve gotten the low-down on winter tires, do you think they’re worth it for your situation? Because of the added comfort of knowing I’d be less prone to accidents, I’d definitely get snow tires in an area that has harsh winters. I think the inconvenience of switching out tires pales in comparison to the benefits! Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments!

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