The tires that you can choose from in today’s market are almost endless. There are tires designed for different road types, vehicle model, driving style, and even temperature. The biggest difference between tires designed for winter and other tires can’t be seen with the naked eyed. This is because winter tires are equipped with a special rubber compound that is designed to perform well in low temperatures. The second biggest difference in winter tires is a deep tread that is built to handle snowy and icy road conditions.
A Special Rubber Compound in Winter Tires
The rubber used in all-season tires, as well as the rubber used in summer tires, tends to harden when temperatures fall under 42 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter tires have the same amount of traction as an all-season tire. However, winter tires’ grip begins to increase as temperature lower. Conversely, non-winter tires tend to lose their ability to grip the road in near-freezing conditions.
It is important to note that the rubber in winter tires will wear down quickly in high temperatures. Avoid long drives with them if you experience a heat wave during the winter. Due to the fact that winter tires soften up in high temperatures, it is important to replace your vehicle’s tires with all-season or summer tires in the early spring. Even the most high-quality winter tires are not designed to perform well during peak summer months. Similarly, summer tires experience lots of wear and tear in cold temperatures. Make sure to replace these with different winter tires when temperatures change in the fall.
Specialized Tread on Winter Tires
Another reason that winter tires do well in cold climates is their unique tread design. The tread pattern molded into tires have biting edges in a high density. Engineers mold narrow slits into the tread. This creates many sharp edges that maintain grip when treading through snow. They also improve handling and make for a quieter drive through snow.
On the other hand, summer tires have long ribs that span the entirety of a tire’s width. These ribs intersect with two parallel grooves that run along the tire’s circumference. This tread design was created for longevity. It creates a quiet, smooth ride on clear roads and improves a vehicle’s fuel economy.
Check Your Tire’s Markings
If you’re unsure what type of tires you currently have equipped on your vehicle, look at the tire’s markings on the side. Winter tires often have a snowflake or three mountains etched into them. This marking indicates the tire meets snow performance standards created by the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association of America. With these tires, you can enjoy peace of mind all winter, knowing that you’ve got the equipment to drive through cold and snowy conditions with improved handling.
All season tires will never have the snowflake symbol. All season tires typically have an M+S symbol etched into the side. These tires are not designed to handle well in cold temperatures, icy roads, or on packed snow.