In the spring it’s often difficult to know if the weather is going to be in the seventies and sunny or wintery weather with snowfall. As it gets warmer and the months go from spring to summer, you may wonder when you should replace your snow tires for summer and fall months, or if driving on your snow tires throughout the year is acceptable.
If the area you live in regularly sees temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, snow tires are a must. In areas where it rarely snows and winter temperatures are moderate, like southern portions of the United States, a good set of all-season tires are ideal. All-season tires are designed to manage all sorts of road conditions including wet and dry roads and the occasional light snow. Studded or non-studded snow tires, also known as winter tires, are tires that provide extra traction on snow or ice. Their deeper tread depths and specialized designs are specially made for colder weather. The rubber maintains a softness which makes it more flexible and allows it to conform to the road in colder, inclement conditions.
Snow Tires in Winter
Having the right set of tires during winter conditions can really make a difference. Winter roads can be dangerous and unpredictable which is why winter tires should be added to endure such conditions as heavy snowfall and black ice. Unique tread depths and patterns reduce snow accumulation providing an overall better traction on the snow by controlling snow and slush and releasing water.
All-Wheel Drive and Winter Tires
It’s a myth to assume that because your vehicle may be all-wheel (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD) that you can get away without using snow tires in the winter. AWD and 4WD drive vehicles improve traction by directing energy to all four wheels during acceleration as opposed to two-wheel or front-wheel drive, which would direct energy to just two wheels. Unfortunately, AWD and 4WD doesn’t assist when applying the brakes, whereas winter tires improve traction during acceleration, turning, and braking.
Whatever “drive” your vehicle is made of, front-wheel, all-wheel, or rear-wheel, winter tires should be installed in sets of four so that all four tires can work together. Leaving two all-season tires on your vehicle in conjunction with winter tires doesn’t allow for tires to wear evenly. For best handling, control, and most importantly, safety during the tumult of winter conditions, replace all four all-season tires with four winter tires.
Why You Shouldn’t Drive All Year-Round With Snow Tires
Because winter tires are made specifically for snow, ice, and slushy conditions, driving year-round on snow tires is not recommended:
- Snow tires have an aggressive tread not designed for added mileage. All season tires are made to endure warmer temperatures and therefore last longer.
- Winter tires are often noisy and prone to irregular tread wear.
- In some states studded tires are limited to use only during colder months.
- They cause a decrease in performance. Winter tires are simply not designed for normal road conditions and handling.
When spring finally arrives, don’t hesitate to return to your all-season tires. Though winter tires are superior for the season in which they’re intended, they do not fare well on warm, dry pavement and will wear down quicker. When changing your tires from winter to summer or summer to winter, be sure to take your vehicle to a reputable tire service center.
For safety purposes, always have your snow tires checked before embarking on a snowy adventure.