We enjoy moving around in the comfort of our car heading to work, dropping off the kids at school, or just running errands here and there.
Nevertheless, harsh weather elements impede driving thus making it arduous and sometimes even dangerous. Winter tires are by far more superior to all-season tires which make them ideal for the cold, icy and snowy months. The most obvious difference here is the stoppage distance. A vehicle that is equipped with winter tires can achieve a 30- 40 % stoppage distance than cars with ordinary tires, and this makes them safer to drive.
More so, it becomes increasingly easier to maneuver through thick layers of snow. Drivers will also appreciate better braking as opposed to skidding that is brought on by season-inappropriate tires.
As per the National Climatic Data Center, Syracuse in New York registers the most snowfall per annum standing at a whopping 123.8 inches. Such levels of snow are not unprecedented in Canada as the southern parts experienced two feet of snow in October 2018. Motorists in such regions could use winter tires to help them navigate the difficult terrains. This article discusses how winter tires work in greater detail.
1. Soft rubber treads
Other tires usually become hard as temperatures drop below 7 degrees Celsius and this renders them useless. When temperatures drop to this level, the rubber in regular tires becomes unbendable thus giving little or no traction. Winter tires have a specially made rubber compound which remains soft in the freezing winter temperatures. The soft rubber treads wrap themselves around the smallest protrusions on the road even when the ice is seemingly very smooth.
This grabbing of icy surfaces helps these tires to plow through heavy snow without the vehicle stalling. This feature of winter tires makes them superbly useful in regions that experience heavy snowfall and long winters.
2. Tiny crevices
Engineers have spent a great deal of research to discover the most appropriate tires for winter weather. To this end, they came up with an ingenious idea of installing small crevices or grooves in the tread of tires to dispel water and grip strongly on snow. Friction produced between winter tires and the ground makes the top layer of snow to melt hence creating a pool. On the other hand, the tiny grooves of summer tires become clogged with storm thus creating a slippery surface which is dangerous on snowy pavements.
Sometimes the tread of winter tires wears off so the sipping has extra teeth that will provide adequate gripping on wet roads.
3. Narrow width
For winter tires to be most effective, they need to have a considerably narrow width as this translates to more pressure per square inch. Ten millimetres closer than summer or regular tires is highly recommended as it gives more traction on snow-covered roads. Therefore, if your summer tires are usually 205 millimetres, winter tires should be around 195 millimetres. When discussing the width of tires, you may as well consider having premium winter tires instead. As the name suggests, this premium option comes with the most advanced tread design and rubber design.
In the end, you increase traction by about 15% than average winter tires, and this means enhanced safety when you are operating your vehicle.
4. Tread design
Winter tires have a specially designed tread pattern that allows for wider grooves thus enhancing grip and better road handling. Vehicles bearing a firm grip mean the driver can steer the car properly and stop whenever needed. Insufficient traction is dangerous, and according to collision statistics in Canada, 30% of traffic accidents in the country happen on icy roads. Also, 5% of these automobile accidents typically occur during snowfall, and another 50,000 occur during precipitation which is quite telling.
5. Move over water
As mentioned earlier, winter tires are equipped to move over water as the pressure melts the top layers of snow. It is the same mechanism that happens when a skater glides over the surface in an ice rink. Without this ability to move swiftly over water, the vehicle will hydroplane which is essentially appearing to float on the water. This hydroplaning is hazardous and could lead the car to veer off its lane thereby hitting other motorists. In different equally perilous scenarios, the vehicle could veer off the road entirely and possibly land in a ditch.
Seeing how winter tires work and their numerous life-saving benefits, it is imperative that drivers invest in season-appropriate tires. If you decide to install winter tires, go for a set of four matching tires, and preferably premium if the budget allows. Matching tires will ensure better balance and handling capacity even when icy roads take a turn for the worse. Canadian winters are harsh, and as mentioned earlier, drivers are susceptible to accidents during this time.
Remember, no investment is too significant for saving your own life and the lives of others.
Related article: How much do winter tires cost in Toronto?