By Theodore Olson
With all of todayÕs traction control and stability control systems, and front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and four-wheel drive vehicles, it can be a bit confusing when trying to decide the value and importance of snow tires. Following is an easy-to-read break down of 10 rules.
Rule 1: regardless of traction electronics a vehicle has, in the snow, it boils down to rubber-meets-the-road-traction
Rule 2: traction comes from your tires gripping the road. No grip, no traction. Traction is important not just for stability, but steering, braking, and propulsion. It’s a biggy!
Rule 3: some all-season tires are adequate in the snow, many are not. Various tires that are ÒratedÓ all-season have sport tire attributes, and are inadequate in the snowÑeven dangerous. SUVs with sport tires (DUBS) run into this scenario quite often.
Rule 4: the best all-season tire is not better in the snow than a premium snow tire
Rule 5: all season tires can stiffen in cold weatherÑstiff tires, less traction
Rule 6: snow tires really do make a noticeable difference
Rule 7: replace all four to maximize safety. Replacing only two encourages unequal traction, which leads to loss of control. In fact, replacing just two is often more dangerous
Rule 8: snow tires will feel/ride differently, but nothing like the days of knobby, studded-snow tires. Tire technology has come a long way, and there are many snow tires on the market that ride beautifully
Rule 9: consider a rim and tire package. It makes swapping to your snows a breeze
Rule 10: you donÕt have to use snow tires. In a safe area, try driving on your regular tires in the snow. If youÕre all over the road, get some snows. If your car feels fine, great. Save your money!
These comments are intended as a general guide. Refer to your ownerÕs manual for particular vehicle requirements.