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March 21, 2013

The Snow Queen: RNR Talks Best Tires for Winter

In my last blog, we talked about “summer” or high-performance tires versus all-season tires—the differences and the pros and cons.  What we didn’t talk about, and it seems relevant in relation to where our last inquiry was coming from (Cleveland), are the differences between summer, all-season, and purpose-built winter/snow tires.

We’ve already talked about the differences between summer and all-season tires, so I think we should start with the differences between all-season and winter/snow tires.  All-season tires are just what they sound like: they’re all-around good tires to have for most people. Though they lack the same traction and smooth ride that high-performance tires offer, they “hold the road” better in temperatures below freezing due to the rubber compound that they’re made from, and they tend to last longer and cost less than high-performance or summer tires. But what if you’re spending a lot of time slogging around through snow, ice and slush?  Are all-season tires still the best choice for you?

If you’re living in a wintry climate, then you probably need to think about some alternatives to all-season tires.  Winter tires are specifically designed to deal with low ambient temperatures and snow and/or ice-covered roads.  Purpose-built winter/snow rubber trades warm-weather tire grip and smooth handling for cold-weather traction—and that’s nothing to sneeze at.  By combining flexible rubber compounds and small tread blocks with lots and lots of small cuts, or sipes, in the tread itself, these tires are always flexing and grabbing at the road which helps them get the maximum grip on surfaces like snow and ice.  When it’s warm and dry, you’re looking at a bumpier, less stable and noisier ride, so either suck it up or switch your tires with the season.

If you’re living in the aforementioned snow-zone, you may have good reason to want two sets of tires.  Automobile Magazine recently performed some very interesting tests on different “season” tires and they found that braking distances varied dramatically, for example: 74 feet (winter tires) vs. 135 feet (all-season) vs. 332 feet (summer tires) on packed snow from 30 mph.  That’s a big difference; in fact, that’s a 350 percent poorer performance on summer tires than winter tires on packed snow.  In contrast, summer tires stopped the car 30 percent better than winter tires on dry roads.

If you’re thinking you may need to meet somewhere in the middle, then maybe you should think about M+S tires.  M+S tires may technically fall into the “all-season” category, but the tread design and compound are more aggressive than your standard all-season tire, and they are really a step-up in terms of handling ability in wintry conditions.

There are a lot of people out there who pride themselves on their ability to get through a hard winter on inappropriate tires, but we’re not sure why.  The fact is that, while you may be an excellent and safe driver, everyone else on the road is not—nor is everyone else in your family.  Have teenagers?  Elderly parents?  A spouse who was raised in a warmer climate with no idea how to drive in wintry conditions?  The tires on their cars may make all the difference.  If you can give them any where from 61 to 258 more feet to stop their vehicle, wouldn’t you want to?  No doubt about it, tires are a big investment, especially when you’re talking about the possibility of multiple sets and/or multiple cars.  Come in and talk to us at RNR.  We can help you choose the right tires for your car whatever climate you live in and set you up on a convenient payment plan.  Most of us can’t get out of driving a car every day, so it’s important to make sure that you’re making the best and safest decisions that you can for you and your family.


Talk to you soon!



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