by Christie Stock, vice president, Discount Tire
No one really needs winter tires, right? If you happen to live in a place where it never gets cold this statement may be true, but if you live in a place where temperatures drop below 45 degrees for any consistent amount of time, then winter tires should be mandatory on your winter to-do list. So, it goes without saying that in Cache Valley winter tires are absolutely recommended.
All-season tires, which most vehicles come equipped with, are designed for general use, but not for winter. In snow and ice conditions, they only provide minimal traction in diagonal handling and shorter braking distances.
Winter tires are designed like a snow boot: They offer as much as 50 percent better traction than all-season tires do. Winter tires also have high-density, sophisticated sipe designs that help cut through water and slush so the tread compound can make better contact with the road.
It is always recommended that four winter tires be installed on vehicles before the cold weather arrives. Using just two winter tires creates a traction mismatch that can have serious handling consequences that, in combination with wet and icy roads, create a recipe for disaster.
Another misconception is that vehicles equipped with traction control will provide enough traction. Though traction control does optimize the traction of your tires in adverse conditions by preventing wheel spin, it does not provide additional tire traction. Traction boils down to the four contact patches created by the vehicle’s tires. Having the best traction on your tires allows the vehicle’s traction control system to operate more effectively and drive more safely. If your vehicle is equipped with ABS brakes it is important to know that this system simply prevents the vehicle’s brakes from locking up. In order to stop quicker, it is key to have adequate traction on your tires. These special features are helpful partners to a good set of winter tires, not a substitute for them.
Think of winter tires as an extra dose of insurance and safety to those riding in or around your vehicle. It’s vital that we all take steps to protect ourselves from the dangers winter can bring, and good traction and control while driving is a huge step in that direction.