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Dec 31, 2013

All Season Tires vs. Winter Tires

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Winter Tires If you live in a climate that experiences snowy, cold winters, you’ve undoubtedly considered – or at least heard of – winter tires. Sometimes referred to as “snow tires,” these are tires that have been specially designed for winter driving. The choice between investing in winter tires that have to be put on in the winter and taken off in the spring and just using all season tires year-round can be difficult. There are multiple factors to involved in making this decision, and considering each variable below will hopefully help you decide what is right for you and your vehicle this winter.

Necessity

Before you consider buying winter tires, you first need to figure out if they will actually benefit you. All season tires are exactly what they sound like – tires that can technically be used all year. The catch is that while they are acceptable for all four seasons, they aren’t particularly great for any season as they have to meet somewhere in the middle.

Winter tires are designed for increased traction on snow and ice. They’ll help prevent sliding, decrease stop times, and increase control as compared to all season or summer tires on cold, icy, snow-covered roads. The flip side is that these tires can actually have the opposite effect on dry, warm roads. They are designed with deeper treads and soften rubber, so they are more likely to skid on roads that aren’t displaying winter conditions. If you live in a relatively mild climate that frequently experiences temperatures over 7 degrees Celsius in the winter, your best option is just to use all season tires year-round. On the other hand, if you’re still reading because you do live in an area with a true winter, there are a few more things to consider.

Laws

Some areas require the use of winter tires by law, in which case you also have a fairly easy decision. For example, the province of Quebec, Canada, requires that all residents use winter tires from December 15 to March 15 every year. Before you make a decision to use all season tires all year, make sure that the law hasn’t already made this decision for you. Even if you aren’t required by law to use winter tires, you may still want to seriously consider them for the benefits listed in the above section. However, while the benefits are clear, this purchase has one last important variable, and its one that impacts every purchasing decision.

Cost

The most blatant drawback to purchasing winter tires is that you’ll have to buy two sets of tires – your winter tires and a set of all seasons or summer tires for when the weather is warmer. This isn’t just because winter tires reduce traction on dry roads – the softer rubber on winter tires also wears more quickly in above-freezing temperatures, so using your winter tires all summer will wear down the tread an eliminate all of the benefits they were designed for the following winter. In considering the extra cost though, there are a couple things to remember. First, the consequences of an accident due to lost control can be much more costly than a set of winter tires. Second, miles driven on your winter tires mean those miles weren’t driven on your all season or summer tires, so your alternate set of tires will last longer and you can buy a set more suited for warm, dry, summer driving. But whatever your decision, drive safely this winter!


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