Many questions tend to come up on the topic of choosing the best tires for your vehicle. And now that we’re in the thick of winter and dealing with some snowy road situations, the loudest ones we’re hearing are all about snow tires.
To help our local drivers and aspiring technicians think twice about their preferred tire type for winter driving, Automotive Training Center put together a list of questions and answers about snow tires.
Do I Really Need Snow Tires for My Car?
If you bought your vehicle new from a dealership, it’s likely equipped with all-season tires, a tire type that provides decent performance year-round.
If your car, truck, or SUV already has all-season tires, snow tires might not be an absolute must. What’s important to remember is that all-season tires tend to focus more on dry road performance than tackling winter weather.
Follow-up question: How much snow do you get? Whether you need snow tires comes down to the area where you live. Here in and around the Philly area where we experience a true winter with temperatures that dip below freezing and more than a couple of inches of snow per year, snow tires are a smart investment.
What Are the Performance Benefits of Driving with Snow Tires?
Designed to maximize grip and traction, snow tires are quite literally in their element on slippery, frozen, low-traction roads.
Special compound, deep treads: Snow tires are constructed out of a special rubber compound that allow them to have a higher elasticity in freezing temperatures. They’re also given deep tread depths that pull excess water and slush away from the driving surface.
Sipes: Another defining performance characteristic of snow tires are sipes, thousands of tiny cuts in the tread that bite into snow and ice to enhance handling and overall traction.
Do I Want Studded or Studless Snow Tires?
Studded snow tires feature small metal studs built into the tire’s tread that dig into thick ice and help your vehicle keep its footing in extreme weather conditions.
Studded tires are fading: While studded tires used to be the preferred snow tire variety, there are certain downsides to their spiky nature. Because their studs are sharp enough to damage pavement, using them on a road that’s not covered in snow isn’t wise and has even become illegal in some areas.
Advancements in winter tire technology (many of which are mentioned above) allow studless tires to be just as effective as studded tires without the potentially damaging effects to the road.
Snow Tire Tips to Remember
In areas where all-season tires might falter, including scaling steep hills in the snow or driving on ice, snow tires are made to excel. If you live in an area where snow storms come through each winter, in most cases studless snow tires will be your best bet.
If you do choose snow tires, remember that you’ll need to swap them out with all-seasons when the weather heats back up again.
Automotive technicians who are employed in a dealership’s service or parts department are tasked with advising their local drivers on the best types of tires for their vehicles.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how professional technicians handle routine vehicle service, you might enjoy our eBook that outlines shop maintenance procedures like oil changes, tire rotation and balances, and more. Get your copy here.