Winter traction / snow – Q & A style (because rubber isn’t naturally meant for ice)

4 01 2011

A few of you have asked additional questions about getting the most out of your tires in the winter season.  Seems as if publishing that information here would be to the benefit of others that may have the exact same or similar inquiries.

Most of this data is courtesy of Howstuffworks.com and Tirerack.com (with additional commentary by the CAR team).

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Q: How do tires made for snow differ from those made for warmer weather?

A: Winter season tires have completely different tread patterns that are engineered specifically to grip (literally bite into) snow.  This is usually best achieved prior to snow forming ice, but you may get some performance out of ice as well.  Just keep in mind that (as the subtitle above suggests) ice wasn’t made to navigate with motor vehicles.  Take extreme caution by allowing extra time to get where you need to go and ALWAYS keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

Cold weather tires are made of much more pliable compounds that conform easily to the road surface.  Since grip is very important, having more control will afford you better steering and handling capabilities.  This increased performance will help to avoid you from getting stuck in the snow as well, which could result in savings with your local towing company.  Lastly, in order for any vehicle specific safety features, such as ABS (anti-lock brakes) to work properly your tires must keep contact with the road.

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Q: If I have “all-season” tires can I just leave them on year-round?

A: Well, we can’t keep you from doing anything but this decision wouldn’t be advisable for a number of reasons, some of which have been discussed already in a previous blog entry.  Winter tires will not last nearly as long in warmer weather conditions.  Also, all weather tires can handle most weather conditions fair enough for them to receive the “all” stamp on their name, however this can be misleading because in most cases winter weather is where ALL of them fall short.  None of the all season tires available today specialize in winter weather conditions.  In fact, of the four seasons, winter is commonly the one that all weather tire manufacturers overlook.  Let’s be honest here, the reason for doing this is of course to draw your attention to their winter weather line.  But is that wrong?  No, not really.  You might disagree until you actually invest in a pair, at which point you’re almost certain to never look back.  You’ll likely wonder what took so long.  Don’t just take our word for it, try for yourself.

A common expression shared around our industry is that all weather tires are like tennis shoes and winter tires resemble gore-tex boots.  Which would you prefer for inclement weather conditions?

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Q: How do you justify the expense of winter tires?

A: I suppose this is a personal question and might receive various answers depending on who you ask because we all value things in different ways.  Our team at Community Automotive Repair believes there are two main ways you will see a good return on your investment.  First, your warmer weather tires will be stored for the duration of the winter weather (regardless of how long that may last), which will inevitably prolong the life of both sets of tires.  This alone could be the difference of up to an additional year or two of use, depending on how much you drive.  Second, most traffic accidents in colder conditions are due to lack of proper traction and handling.  While there’s no guarantees, the odds that you’ll have significantly better control are very high, which means your chances of an accident (at least that you cause) are drastically reduced.  How does this translate to savings, you may ask?  Have you considered the cost of your insurance deductible if you have to file a claim?  Perhaps you pay extra for having it set at $100 but most people would have to spend upwards of $500 to repair the damages.  For less than that you can wrap your entire vehicle in winter performance tires.  Make better sense now?

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Bottom line here is you have a decision to make, and we’re not interested in “hard-selling” anyone on this, or anything else we offer.  That’s not our style.  We do, however, have a commitment to keep you informed of the latest product innovations and their advantages.  This, my friends, is what we hope to have achieved with the continuation of this particular blog entry.

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