10 reasons to store your all-season tires heading into winter!
- All-season tires are a compromise, at best. On snow, ice, or cold pavement, the stopping distance of a car with winter tires can be up to 30 to 40 per cent shorter than one with all-seasons.
- The most important part of a winter tire is actually its rubber compound, which is designed to stay soft in freezing temperatures. Like a gecko climbing a sheet of glass, a tire sticks to the road by conforming to minute imperfections. The soft rubber treads of a winter tire are able to splay and wrap themselves around minute protrusions on cold pavement, or even on what may appear to be perfectly smooth ice. Summer tires, which are designed to operate in warm temperatures, harden as the temperature falls. All-seasons, which must be designed for year-round use, cannot match winter tires in low temperatures.
- It’s about temperature, not snow. Winter tires should be installed when you expect temperatures to fall to 7 C or below. As the temperature falls, the rubber in summer and all-season tires becomes inflexible, killing traction.
- Winter tires are designed to move water. When a tire presses down on snow or ice, it actually melts the top layer, creating a thin film of water (the same phenomenon that occurs as a skate glides across a rink). If the water isn’t moved away from the area in front of the tire, the car will hydroplane. This is why winter tires are covered with grooves (including tiny channels known as “sipes”) that move water away, allowing the tire to stay in contact with the surface.
- All-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive help you accelerate, not stop. On slippery surfaces, vehicles with four driving wheels can accelerate better than those with two-wheel drive. But their cornering and braking capabilities are little different than a two-wheel-drive model. When you’re trying to stop or turn, the limits are determined by the traction capabilities of your tires, not the number of driven wheels.
- Good winter tires can stick to glare ice, but only if they are within their traction limits. If your car begins to slide, look straight down the road to where you need to go, and maintain a light grip on the wheel. As the car decelerates, you will gradually regain control as the tire’s rubber begins gripping surface imperfections on the ice. Slow speed and gentle control inputs will maintain traction.
- The performance of winter tires has been significantly improved over the past decade by advanced rubber compounds that allow designers to make tires softer without sacrificing other critical properties, including wear and heat build-up as temperatures climb. Major manufacturers spend a lot of money on R&D.
- In the old days, winter tires came with deep, aggressive treads designed to paddle through deep snow. This often made for a lumpy and noisy ride. Current winter tire technology focuses on shallower treads with closely spaced grooves that carry away the water film created when the tire presses down on ice or snow.
- Although testing makes it easy to see the performance advantages of a winter tire (you stop faster), the technology behind it is deceptively complex. Tire designers must consider a long list of factors, including tread stability and hysteresis (a process that generates heat as a tire repeatedly deforms and recovers as it rotates under the weight of a car).
- Although they offer an advantage on glare ice, studded tires are far less effective than non-studded models on cold, bare, or wet pavement (where most drivers spend the majority of their time during the winter months). However, if in the back-country, studded winters can definitely be an asset where there can be lots of ice-covered roads.