The tires you use should be based on the climate you live in. You might not need separate tires for winter and summer, but in some areas, you do.
If you live in an area where you face less than one month of actual wintry roads, you won’t need to change your tires from all-season models. On the other hand, if you live in northern areas of the country where you have a distinct winter season filled with snow and ice, you’ll want to have a second set of wheels with the right rubber on them for your winter driving experience.
What are winter tires?
Driving in the cold weather brings its own variety of challenges, making it more difficult for you to drive with confidence, especially if you have the wrong tires. Wintry climates involve temperatures that dip below freezing, snow, and ice. These factors make it much more difficult for you to experience and smooth and easy drive. Thankfully, winter tires can help. While you still won’t drive on snow or ice like you will on dry, clear roads, you can enjoy better grip and tire performance during the winter months.
One of the greatest differences between a set of summer tires versus winter tires is tire performance. Winter tires contain special rubber tread compounds that remain flexible at temperatures below 45 degrees. Tires made for the cold also feature extra-dense tread patterns that add more grip in the snow and on ice. Typically, you don’t need these tires to be studded to handle the drive during the cold weather more easily.
If you’ve heard the term “snow tires” used, this term also refers to the winter tires you need when it’s cold outside. If you face several weeks of winter or ride mostly on summer tires, you’ll want to have a set of winter tires to handle those times when the temperature drops to an unreasonable level. When you need a coat, your car needs its winter tires to handle your drive.
Why can’t you use summer tires in the winter?
A certain level of flexibility is required for your tires to perform properly. Summer tires work great when it’s hot outside but become too stiff when cold temperatures arrive. This means you won’t find the performance and grip desired if you continue to drive on summer tires during the winter months. Switch to winter tires to ensure you’ve got the right rubber under your vehicle for the season.
What are summer tires?
There’s a common misconception that you can’t drive on summer tires when it’s raining outside. While some people won’t drive their special car in the rain, summer tires are perfectly capable of handling good traction in wet conditions. Of course, the best time to drive is when it’s warm, dry, and clear outside. During these times, you’ll have the best traction with your summer tires and the most fun driving, especially if you don’t have a specific destination in mind.
Most summer tires feature wide tread and soft compounds, which makes them flexible and ideal for driving in warmer temperatures. The compounds used in summer tires are the greatest differentiator when looking at winter tires. Summer tires are made with deep grooves to prevent hydroplaning, something you won’t normally face during winter because the rainwater is frozen into ice.
If you live in an area where the temperatures are warmer most of the time, summer tires are typically a better option than winter or all-season tires. That said, you must avoid driving on summer tires in winter conditions. If you do, you’ll have serious trouble maintaining control of your vehicle on the road.
When you want speed, go with summer rubber?
The large contact patches and low-profile side walls of summer tires provide excellent traction and cornering capabilities. This means summer tires typically have high-speed ratings and certainly have higher speed ratings when compared to winter or all-season models. Most drivers turn to summer rubber when they want better overall performance. These tires are known to be noisier and less comfortable than other types of tires, but they are the right tires for speed and performance.
Should you choose all-season tires?
There is an alternative to both summer and winter tires. That alternative is a set of all-season tires which offer combined benefits found in the other types of tires. All-season tires are meant for driving in any weather and on any road conditions. Of course, if you’re facing several weeks of snow and ice, you’ll want to put on winter tires, even if you’ve got all-season models on your vehicle. One of the greatest benefits of all-season tires, and why most people choose them over winter or summer models, is their usefulness under nearly all driving conditions and all temperatures.
Although all-season models are great for a variety of driving conditions, they don’t reach the benefits found in the other two types of tires. When it’s wet outside, all-season tires sacrifice some traction, and in snowy conditions, these tires sacrifice grip once again. Although all-season tires are great for most driving conditions, drivers that are willing to switch back and forth and have an extra set of wheels and tires in their garage have the most traction when the driving conditions become difficult.
When should you choose all-season tires?
Tire choices are typically made based on the climate you live in. If you’re living in an area with a moderate climate where temperatures are consistently above 45 degrees and the rainfall is moderate, a set of all-season tires can be a perfect choice. On the other hand, if the temperatures go too extreme, for several weeks at a time, it makes sense to have a set of tires that are made for those conditions.
Which tires should you put on your car? Will you make the switch between summer and winter tires when conditions dictate, or will you stick with the all-season models? This is an important decision, especially when you consider that your tires are the only part of your car that touches the road.
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