With winter in full swing, you’ve probably had everyone and their grandma tell you that you need to invest in snow tires. But is it really worth it?
Well, seeing as 7% of all vehicle crashes are a result of snow or ice on the road, it’s probably something you should at least consider. There are a lot of different factors, however, that could impact your decision.
That’s why we put together this guide to help you understand more about why snow tires are important, and why you should or shouldn’t invest in a pair.
What’s the Difference Between Regular Tires and Snow Tires?
I guess the best place to start out this conversation is by explaining the difference between the tires you have on your car now, and tires meant for the snow. The biggest difference is the tread.
Snow tires are often times going to have a much more heavy-duty tread than your average street tires, as well as small metal studs. However, they are perfectly fine to drive on the dry pavement, so you don’t have to worry about putting on a different pair of tires every time that it snows
Why Do I Need Snow Tires?
There are lots of reasons to have snow tires during the winter months. Whenever there is snow on the ground, even if there is only a dusting, the likelihood of losing traction greatly increases.
With snow tires, those little metal studs are going to pierce through snow and dig into the pavement, and will even help you to have a bit more traction on the ice, as they work similarly to cleats.
You might be thinking, “I have all season tires, isn’t that enough?” The answer to that is, not exactly. While all-season tires will perform better in winter conditions than average street tires, you are still not going to get as much traction and control in the snow as you would with snow tires.
There are some factors to consider when deciding if you should invest or not in snow tires, ask yourself these questions:
How Much Does it Usually Snow Where I Live?
One of the biggest elements to consider when deciding on winter tires is whether or not you will actually be driving in the snow. If you live in Phoenix, AZ, you definitely don’t need snow tires.
Now, if you live in an area like Seattle, it’s a little bit tougher.
Whether or not it snows in Seattle is completely uncertain and unpredictable. Some years there will be several cases of deep snowfall, and other winters there won’t be any lowland snow at all.
If you suspect that it will snow more than once or twice a year, you may want to invest.
However, if you live in a place like Aspen, CO, where it is certain to snow all winter, then you should definitely invest in snow tires.
What Kind of Car Do I Drive?
This is another critical circumstance that affects your decision. A lot of times, cars that are All Wheel Drive (AWD) or 4 Wheel Drive (4WD) you could get away with having to drive in the snow a couple times a year.
If you drive a car that is Rear Wheel Drive (RWD), which means your car produces power at the rear wheels, then you will have a hard time not spinning your tires every time you step on the gas. In this case, snow tires are very useful and can help you from sliding your back end out if you turn a corner a bit too fast, or if you slam on the breaks too suddenly.
Now, if you have a Front Wheel Drive (FWD) vehicle, meaning your power is produced at the front wheels, then you have a different type of problem. You will gain power easily when you use the gas, but you might experience what is known as front-end push. This is something that causes a lot of people to get in accidents, especially in the snow.
If you are driving a two-wheel drive vehicle, front or rear, it is better to have snow tires than to not. If you have a four/all wheel drive car, you could probably do without, but depending on the amount of snow you encounter, you still may need a good pair.
If you are unsure which drivetrain is in your car, ask an expert.
What is My Driving Level?
If you are a new driver, or you come from a warm climate and are moving to a place where it snows often, snow tires might be right for you. If you are worried about whether or not you driving skills will suffice, it’s important to be prepared (even having the info of an institution like Florida Ticket Firm is a good way to guard against tickets you may get as a new driver that could add points to your license).
If you are a very experienced driver, and you are very used to driving in the snow, then you could probably do without them, but you still never know what’s going to happen. I recommend that either way you should invest, especially if you will be driving in the snow frequently during the winter months.
Alternative Options to Snow Tires
There are some other things that you can do instead of investing in winter tires, which can be a bit cheaper at times as well. If you are wary about spending a bunch of money on snow tires, then consider these other options:
- Tire Chains- If you want something to help you have more traction in the snow without having to spend hundreds on new tires, consider chains. They are usually $150 or less for a good pair, and they will give you a similar effect. You do have to put them on any time that it snows, though. You cannot leave them on all winter.
- Tire Cables- These are pretty much the same as chains. They don’t work quite as well as them, but if they were to break free from your wheel, they will do significantly less damage to your car than chains. They are also very affordable, even more so than chains.
- Tire Socks- Tire socks are a special textile material that fits over your tire like a pillowcase, and grips to the ground better than your tires will. This is an affordable option, but not as effective as the others.
Of course, there is always the option to opt-out of driving in the snow. If it doesn’t snow all that often, and you aren’t sure your car is capable, or your driving skills aren’t polished enough, just stay home if you can. Or, find a ride with someone who does have the ability to get around safely in the snow.
And the Verdict Is
The short answer, yes, you should probably invest in snow tires. There are way more reasons that you should than reasons you shouldn’t. Unless you aren’t going to be seeing any snow this year, make the investment.
Remember, snow tires save lives. That’s what they are here for, if you are unsure as to whether you need them, then you probably need them. If you’re looking for more car advice, check out our blog. For now, have a great winter season, and drive safely!