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When snow and ice is predicted, people jump into action: they fill up their gas tanks, buy extra groceries, and stock up on road salt.
Predictably, there is also an uptick in tire sales as people scramble to make sure their vehicles are safe. But are winter tires really safer?
Winter tires are worth it in cold areas if they are used responsibly. Winter tires are made out of special rubber for lower temperatures, so they can grip the road and deal with winter conditions better. However, winter tires should not be driven during warmer weather. The softness of the rubber can wear down faster, shortening the lifespan of the tires and ultimately making them less effective.
If you live in an area where ice or hard-packed snow is common, studded tires may be useful. Studded tires have actual studs in the surface of the tire that grip the ice. Unfortunately, this means that without the ice or thick snow, the tire studs bore into the road, damaging the surface. Perhaps that is why many states have outlawed the use of studded tires, including cold-weather states like Michigan and Minnesota.
According to Dan Ilika at Autoguide.com, you definitely need winter tires, even if your vehicle is all-wheel drive. He states that this is because of grip and traction. If a car with all-wheel drive begins to slip, its wheels will spin and the car will automatically pump the brakes to stop. Without proper grip on the tires—such as that given by winter tires—the car's wheels will continue to spin until they can grip the road. This can lead to dangerous driving situations.
All-season tires are indeed equipped to deal with winter conditions, but only to a certain extent. During extremely low temperatures, all-season tires can harden and lose traction. In addition, winter tires from places like Evans Tire & Service Centers outperform all-season tires significantly in snowy weather. Though some people may like the idea of just buying all-season tires for the whole year’s usage, these types of tires don’t quite perform to the same levels as tires specifically designed for each particular condition.
The best fitting tire for your car depends entirely on the weather in your area. However, it is always better to be cautious than not safe enough, especially when it comes to driving. Your car and your family will surely thank you for it.