Winter tires are one of best ways to make sure your family gets where you want to go safely. Combine a reliable set of tires with tips on staying safe, and your cross-country winter trip will be full of cheer, not fear of the ice and snow.
Do You Need Winter Tires?
No one can blame you for wondering whether buying an extra tire set is really necessary. As winter sets in and predictions of snow and ice are put to the test, it’s tough to gauge whether winter tires are worth it. Winter road conditions are highly variable and some sections of the country can go an entire season without seeing a flake.
But when it comes down to it, your family’s safety is at stake. Each year, 116,800 people are injured and 1,300 people die due to accidents caused by winter weather. Even if this winter’s weather isn’t deadly, next year’s could be. Having a set of the best winter tires available to throw on when the roads get rough will help ensure both peace of mind and safety for you and your family.
Yet, when the holidays are approaching, money can be in short supply. If that’s the case, you can look into financing options. That way, the tires will be there now in the event of a harsh winter storm, and you can finish paying for them after the holiday season when funds are a little less tight.
What Are the Best Winter Tires?
When you’re faced with the onset of harsh winter conditions, analyze your options. Besides winter tires, there are also all-weather tires and all-season tires.
All-weather vs all-season tires: You’re probably familiar with the winter tires vs.all-season tires debate. But did you know there’s such thing as all-weather tires too? You’re thinking, “Great, another option, that’s all I need!” To narrow it down and figure out what’s going on here, let’s go to a place where harsh winters are the norm.
Canada is the Great White North, a land where icy and snowy conditions prevail every winter. “Canadians are generally well versed in the differences between all-season and winter tires,” says author Emily Chung, in an article for the aptly named website Driving. She continues, “From my experience, few Canadians are aware that all-weather tires exist, or understand how they differ from all-season tires.”
When it comes to all-weather vs all-season tires, Chung reveals the following:
- All-weather tires are a cross between all-season and winter tires, with a hybrid tread pattern
- All-weather tires perform better than all-season tires during the winter, with a faster stopping-time in wet conditions
- All-seasons last longer than all-weather tires year-round, because they’re made with firmer rubber
So all-weather tires generally perform better than all-season tires during the winter (and summer, actually, because they’re better in wet conditions all-around), but there is a downside: all-weather tires have a shorter tread-life than all-season tires. All-weather tread-life does continue to get better as the technology progresses. A great example of an all-weather tire is the Nokian WRG3 series.
All in all, the best winter tire for extreme conditions is a dedicated winter tire. In a study from Canada’s Kal Tire, a car with winter tires stopped nearly 49 feet sooner than the same car equipped with all-season tires. A great example of a winter tire is the Vredestein Wintrac Xtreme. When ice and snow hit your neck of the woods, a tire like the Vredestein Wintrac is going to offer maximum safety and performance.
Do you need winter tires? The answer is yes, because you never know when a severe blizzard or record-breaking cold temperatures will hit. Make sure you know winter driving techniques to get the best out of your tires.
What Are the Best Winter Driving Techniques?
Even if you have great winter tires, you’ll still want to be prepared for driving in ice and snow. There are a lot of things to consider. You never know what other drivers are going to do. Both AAA and the guys from Cartalk offer essential tips. Here’s what you need to know to get where you need to go in the snow:
- Take it easy: Drive as slowly as you can, within reason; give yourself plenty of time to accelerate and plenty of time to stop
- Increase following distance: Stay eight to 10 seconds behind the car in front of you
- Avoid stopping when possible: The less stopping you do in snow, the less likely you are to get stuck; try cruising at the lowest possible speed until you absolutely must stop
- Don’t go full-throttle up hills, and don’t stop on them: Go slow-and-steady up hills so you don’t get stuck on them
- Put a bag of sand between rear axles: If you’re driving a rear-wheel drive car, a little weight in the back (about 20 pounds) will help with traction; don’t weigh it down too much, or the front tires won’t be able to do their job
- Don’t drive: You probably don’t need to be told twice to stay home from work when conditions are too severe
Also, always make sure to remove snow and ice from your car before driving. Make sure maintenance is up-to-date.
Now that you’re equipped with the best winter tires and driving techniques, you’re ready to go. Enjoy your winter trips, and may the winter roads treat you well!