There’s an annual debate among drivers as to the effectiveness of winter tires. You’ll hear many drivers claim that their all-season tires are good enough, or that they don’t want to waste money on another set of tires when their all-seasons are still in good shape. They may even point to the lack of storage space for an extra set. What these drivers don’t understand are the massive differences between winter tires and all-season tires.
Winter tires are designed to drive safer in all winter weather conditions, not just snow or ice. Making the switch to winter tires can save your life, your family’s, and the lives of others on the road. Here are all the benefits of winter tires that you need to know about.
- Safer Braking
When the average driver comes across black ice, their natural reaction is to slam on the brake pedal. When you have winter tires, the flexible rubber absorbs the shock from your slamming and allows you to more easily regain control. If you slam on the brakes with all-season tires, their stiff rubber has no give. No amount of brake stomping will stop your tires from sliding across the sheet of black ice. In a report from the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada, winter tires provide a 30 percent better stopping distance on ice than all-season tires. They also have better brakeability on snowy surfaces in addition to icy.
- Better Traction
The tread of the tire is what helps it grasp the surface of the road. In icy conditions, regular all-season treads aren’t deep enough for safe traction. Instead, the shallow dips in the tire will simply slide over ice and snow. Winter tires, on the other hand, have deeper horizontal slits in the rubber. This more intense siping allows the tread to dig into the surface of the road, rather than skate across it. You’ll notice when driving on snow that the extra traction significantly helps propel your vehicle forward. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to back your car out of your snow-packed driveway.
Tires of all kinds are designed to move the water they encounter away from the vehicle. If you look at any car driving through a puddle, you can see the water splashing away from either side. Hydroplaning occurs when there’s too much water for your tires to displace. Since water does not compress easily, the water that your tires displace has to go somewhere. It may force its way under your tires and separate the tread from the road. The driver often loses control as the car slides along the water as if it were a sheet of ice.
In the winter, hydroplaning and “slushplaning” are common. Despite Southwestern Ontario’s somewhat mild winters, the melted snow creates an excessive amount of water on the roads. Luckily, winter tires are designed to address hydroplaning. The groves that regular tires have to push the water aside are deeper in winter tires. Therefore, they’re more effective at displacing the water and keeping your vehicle in constant contact with the road.
- Easier Snow Maneuvering
The trick to driving effectively on snow is in the width of your tires. With larger-width tires, the weight of the vehicle is dispersed across more space. Each pound per square inch requires force to push over the snow. Winter tires are specifically designed with a more narrow width. This forces the pounds per square inch to concentrate across minimal space. Thinner tires mean less snow that needs to be driven over or pushed away. Whether you’re trying to back out of your driveway or make your way down a country road, winter tires are better able to cut through the snow.
- Stronger Rubber Compound
Temperature changes the properties of rubber. When it drops to negative seven degrees Celsius, the rubber in your all-season tires gets harder and less flexible. This stiffness hinders their ability to gain traction and grip the road. Tires need to be able to adapt to the bumps and dips in the road. Even the tiniest of protrusions need to be wrapped by your tires; otherwise, they’ll create instability in your traction. Ice is one of those surfaces with no visible protrusions, but tons of tiny ones.
Winter tires use rubber compounds that keep them flexible down to negative 30 degrees Celsius. In sub-freezing temperatures, your winter tires can still wrap the bumps and dips in the road and adapt to the smallest ice protrusions. This means they maintain better traction on ice and snow than all-season tires. Premium winter tires have the best rubber compounds, but any winter tire is better than an all-season tire in the winter.
- Plenty of Storage Options
Some drivers are put off by the fact that you need to store your all-season tires when you put on your winter tires. However, there are tons of easy options for tire storing. If you have space in your garage or basement at home, you can get tire storage cases that protect the tires and keep them in good condition. You can also get affordable tire storage racks to put against the wall in your garage. However, your basement or garage must be climate-controlled to maintain the tires’ condition. You want to avoid spaces that can get too hot or humid or can freeze.
If you don’t have a climate-controlled place at home to store tires, there are still tons of options in Hamilton. You could contact a reputable tire shop and ask about their storage options. Many will have designated, climate-controlled areas for tire storing. Or, you can look on Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace for people who are willing to store your tires for you. These are often homeowners with extra space in their climate-controlled garage. Both tire shops and private individuals vary in affordability.
- Worth the Cost
Your safety is the most important factor to consider. If you’re driving with all-season tires over black ice, you’ll likely wish you had made the choice to get winter tires. Especially if you regularly drive people you love. There’s no price too high a tire for every budget to keep those you love safe on the road.
If you’re interested in getting winter tires in Hamilton, visit us at Round Around Tire. We sell a range of international brands in new and used tires, as well as a variety of winter tires.
Browse our selection online or visit our store at 482 Barton Street East, Hamilton. You can also give us a call at (905) 383- 8474.