Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Should I get snow tires?

Snow tires / winter tires

Should you get snow tires?

People always ask me if they should get snow tires. I tell winter tiresthem it’s really a no-brainer if you’ve got the dough because winter driving is simply much safer if your vehicle has four snow tires compared to four all season tires. Snow tires outperform all season tires in every respect. And, if you equip your all wheel drive (AWD) or four wheel drive (4WD) vehicle with snow tires, you’ll get even better winter performance.

Snow tires versus all wheel drive and snow tires versus 4WD

Everyone thinks that AWD and 4WD provide more traction. They don’t. Tires get you traction, AWD and 4WD just divide up the power and deliver it to two versus four wheels. So the amount of traction you get on wet, icy, and snow packed roads is totally dependent on the tire’s tread design, softness of the rubber, the tire’s ability to squeegee and pump water out from the tire, and the tire’s ability to pack and retain snow in the tread blocks.

With all season tires, an AWD or 4WD vehicle will provide better acceleration from a stop than a 2WD vehicle. And that same setup provides more control in turns. But AWD and 4WD won’t help you stop, and inability to stop is what causes winter accidents.

Winter tires help you stop sooner on snow

Independent tests between all season and snow tires prove that winter tires stop you 66% faster (30-ft shorter) than the same vehicle equipped with all season tires. The tests were done by accelerating to 30MPH and slamming on the brakes (vehicle equipped with ABS). Here’s why they stop faster:

Snow-on-snow grips better than rubber-on-snow. You may think the aggressive tread on snow tires is designed grip the snow and then throw it out of the tread voids. That’s wrong. Winter tires are designed to pack the snow into the tread voids and keep it there, because squeezing snow against snow provides more grip. Think of how well snow packs together when making a snowball!

Winter tires stop faster on Ice too

The same tests shows that winter tires help you stop 44% faster (18-ft) on ice too. That’s due to the tire’s sipping and rubber compound that literally squeegees water off the ice.

Snow tires help you accelerate faster

For the reasons listed above, you can expect better acceleration with winter tires as well.

So, if you own an AWD or 4WD and want even better winter performance, switch to winter tires. If you own a 2WD drive car, trust me, winter tires are worth the investment.

Consider the cost of a single winter accident

You’re trying to slow down and hit a slick spot. You hit another vehicle. Now you’ve got an “at fault” accident on your hands and you’ll have to pay your full collision deductible to fix your vehicle ($500 or $1,000). Or, you slide into the curb and damage your steering or suspension. The average “curb kiss” costs between $700 and $1,500 dollars. Modern vehicles simply can’t withstand even a slow impact with a curb. See this article. Are you going to file a claim or pay out of pocket?

Balance the cost of accident against the cost of snow tires

A set of winter tires and wheels costs around $1,000. If you drive 15,000 miles per year and use the winter tires from December through April, you’ll only put on about 4,000 miles per season. So they’ll last ten years (theoretically). If they prevent just one curb kiss in ten years or one $1,000 deductible, they’ve paid for themselves. And that doesn’t even count in the cost of insurance premium increases due to an “at fault” accident.

Check out winter tires at your local tire store

©, 2015 Rick Muscoplat



Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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