Around this time of year when I was a kid, my father would pull the snow tires out of the basement. It was an annual ritual watching him jack up the car one side at a time with the old style bumper jack, fight with removing the lug nuts that held the tire (I learned a few new vocabulary words since there was always one nut that would not come off.)
I also remember my father put on studded snow tires. Studded snow tires actually had metal studs that were screwed into the knobs on the tire. You could hear his car coming down the road with the very distinct whirring sound of the studs on the dry pavement.
With today’s modern all-season tires, most people don’t bother to change to a winter tire. Winter tires are designed to deliver safety and control in snow, ice, and cold weather conditions. Many people think that all-season tires can deliver this same performance. The superior traction that winter tires deliver is as much as a 25 to 50 percent increase over all-season tires. Winter tires can very well be the margin you need to stop in time or to turn and avoid trouble.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) has gone so far as to set a new standard for winter traction. They designate winter tires that meet the new severe snow standard with a new symbol. This sets them apart from standard all-season tires. Winter tires have special tread compounds that use one or more of the following features to deliver improved traction:
- “Soft stud” tread fibers “bite” like metal studs yet are quiet and do not harm the road.
- Special compounds in the tire retain their flexibility even in the coldest temperatures. A more flexible tread surface equals more traction and control.
- Silica-based, micro pore compounds are used to bite through the water film on roads and increase snow and ice traction.
Today’s winter tires have tread designs which have better snow and ice traction. They deliver better traction while maintaining a comfortable, quiet ride and also have excellent dry road traction. Below is a comparison I found between the stopping distances for a vehicle with and without winter tires.
As always, use your head while driving in adverse weather. Drive at a safe speed and give yourself plenty of distance between the cars in front of you.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving and happy motoring.