If you live in an area that sees plenty of winter weather, you’ve likely considered getting snow tires. However, these tires aren’t necessarily for everyone, and they are an added expense that most people skip if they can.
Before you purchase a set of snow tires, it’s important to understand what they are and the benefits they might provide. Keep reading below for the answers to these questions and more.
What Are Snow Tires?
Snow tires are specifically designed for driving in winter weather. Typically, they have a tread design with larger gaps to allow funneling of ice and snow away from the tire, improving grip. Usually, these tires are optimized for driving below 45-degrees Fahrenheit (7-degrees Celsius). As you might imagine, these tires are most common in colder areas.
To figure out if you need snow tires or not, continue reading below.
Is It Worth Getting Snow Tires?
Generally, snow tires do provide better traction and handling when used in extremely snowy conditions.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need them. If your area doesn’t get much snow or ice, then you may not reap the full benefit from snow tires.
According to Canada’s Traffic Industry Research Foundation, all-winter tires perform better than all-season tires in all winter driving conditions. If the road is covered in snow or ice, then the tire will likely perform better.
Furthermore, this study found that using winter tires, in the long run, would be cheaper than using all-season tires.
For the most part, it seems that winter tires may be beneficial in any weather below 7 degrees Celsius (44.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
However, it is essential to point out that this research was done in Canada, where it is relatively cold for much of the winter.
If you live in an area that rarely reaches below 7 degrees Celsius, then you likely won’t get the full benefit out of snow tires.
After all, if it doesn’t snow very much, then you won’t need to worry about driving in the snow with snow tires.
What is the Difference Between Snow Tires and Regular Tires?
Specifically speaking, snow tires are designed to increase traction in snowy and icy conditions. If you live in a snowy area, then snow tires are often quite useful.
To accomplish this task for driving in snow, the tires are made with a rubber that is soft and works better in cold temperatures.
Because this rubber stays soft even when it is cold, the tire can maintain better traction and grip on the road.
Furthermore, the tread pattern is designed specifically for snow and icy conditions.
With a deeper tread, the winter tires push snow out from underneath the wheel, ensuring a better grip. With the deeper grooves, the tires prevent hydroplaning.
Furthermore, zig-zag grooves on the tread help bite into the snow and ice. According to Consumer Reports, these zig-zag patterns provide better grip and traction.
Plus, these benefits carry over no matter what sort of car you are driving. All-wheel-drive, front-drive, and rear-drive cars all benefit from winter tires.
As you might imagine, all-weather tires don’t benefit from any of these features. Instead, they are designed for all seasons, which means that they aren’t designed for any season in particular.
Specifically, regular tires will get tough in the winter as the weather gets colder. When you add in ice and snow, the tires may not be able to get much traction at all.
Remember, things like traction control and other features all help improve traction. However, they can’t create traction. Only tires can do that.
Can You Use Snow Tires All Year?
Not preferably. While these tires work great in the winter time, they are not made to handle the warmer conditions of the summer.
Firstly, these tires will wear down faster on hot pavement. Because they are made from a softer rubber, the hot pavement will cause the rubber to wear away faster.
Eventually, this will lead to the tires becoming worn down much faster than they would otherwise.
Secondly, they don’t provide great handling in the summer. Typically, the heat makes the tires even softer and squishier.
Usually, this causes the tires to act a bit sluggish when you’re trying to maneuver. They don’t want to move fast or easily.
Plus, this issue will also cause your fuel efficiency to drop. After all, soft, squishy tires take more energy to move.
Therefore, I don’t recommend using your tires in the summer. Instead, you should remove them in the spring and replace them with all-season or summer tires.
How Much Does a Set of Snow Tires Cost?
Typically, you can expect snow tires to cost about $150 each for a car. Comparatively, snow tires for SUVs and trucks are a bit more expensive at $200 each.
When calculating the overall cost, don’t forget to factor in the cost of the spare as well.
Therefore, a car will cost you about $750 for four snow tires and a spare. On the other hand, an SUV or truck will cost about $1,000.
Of course, the brand and exact tire you choose matters. In many cases, you may be able to take advantage of discounts to get some money off of your tires. Plus, there are budget brands out there if you need to save even more money.
At the same time, there are also premium tires that are much more expensive.
In the end, it depends on your budget and what exactly you’re looking for.
Snow tires are designed to handle snow and ice, hence their name. To accomplish this, they are made with very large tread gaps, which increase traction in snowy and icy conditions.
In most cases, it is recommended that you use these tires when temperatures drop below 45-degrees Fahrenheit or 7-degrees Celsius.
Sometimes, these tires will have ceramic or metal studs that help increase traction on snow and ice. However, these studs are not very helpful on dry pavement and can increase wear to the tire.
Plus, their legality differs from area to area.