What Are Snow Tires & How Do They Work?
Winter tires are designed to help provide enhanced traction in colder temperatures. If you frequently drive through harsh winter conditions, winter tires might be right for you. Here are some quick and useful facts to help you make an informed purchase.
Tread Compound & Design
Most winter tires feature specialized tread compounds and advanced tread designs that help provide superior traction and stopping distance. In a contest between all-season and winter tires, winter tires improved braking performance by up to 20%. And tests in snow conditions revealed that vehicles with winter tires stopped around 28 feet shorter than the same vehicle with all-season tires. Winter tires tend to have better traction and handling in colder temperatures. The tread compound maintains its flexibility, which allows for enhanced grip on snow and ice. Learn more about the differences between Winter and All-Season Tires.
In addition to harsh winter weather, if you encounter many hills or sharp corners in your area, you might want the winter-ready traction and control of winter tires. Additionally, unplowed snow, slush or ice can be a hazard to you when driving, and winter tires can help you face that challenge.
Many people wonder how harsh the weather needs to be in order to get winter tires. The general consensus is that if you live in a place where the temperature is consistently below 45F/7.2C, or when you must drive in challenging winter conditions, winter tires may be a good choice for you. While all-season tires can provide some traction for wet and snowy conditions, there is no denying the enhanced traction and grip that winter tires provide to help create a safer and more comfortable driving winter experience.
When shopping for tires, keep in mind that your vehicle's starting, stopping and turning abilities ultimately come down to the amount of traction your tires can offer on snowy or icy road surfaces.
Buying Winter & Snow Tires
Winter Tire Facts & Safety Tips
Here are a few simple tips and facts that you should keep in mind when driving with winter tires.
- To help maintain stability and control of your vehicle in severe snow conditions, the RMA (Rubber Manufacturers Association) recommends installing winter tires in sets of fours.
- Even if you have traction control or four-wheel drive on your vehicle, these features can offer a false sense of security in winter conditions. Traction control/ABS are designed for vehicle stability, power transmission and controlled braking. They do NOT optimize traction or grip during all types of winter driving maneuvers.
- The Severe Snow Conditions Symbol located on the sidewall of a tire indicates a tire that meets a snow traction standard recognized by the RMA (Rubber Manufacturers Association). Remember to look for the Severe Snow Conditions Symbol when shopping for winter tires.
Winter Tire Care
When to Put On Winter Tires
You’ll want to mount your winter tires before the bad weather hits and you’re caught off guard. When the outside temperature drops consistently below 45F/7.2C, it is time to install your vehicle’s winter tires.
When to Remove Winter Tires
Keep your winter tires on your vehicle until the driving conditions have improved and the temperature is consistently above 45F/7.2C. Then, replace them with either summer or all-season tires.
Where to Store Winter Tires
Once you have removed your winter tires, you'll have to store them until next winter.
- Keep them in a cool, dry location (ideally in a basement or garage).
- Keeping them in the heat can be detrimental to the rubber compound.
- Storing them in black storage bags prevents the rubber from drying or cracking.
How Long Do Snow Tires Last?
If your winter tires have reached a remaining tread depth of approximately 4/32nds, you should consider replacing them before the next winter season. Explore some simple tread tests.
Explore our Winter Tires.