Winter is here. Check your tires.
This video from Wisconsin’s first snowfall of the season is a good reminder to all of us that we should check our tires and perhaps swap out our summer treads for a good set of winter tires.
As you can see in this video, a number of cars are completely unable to stop on the icy conditions, most likely because their tires are not up to the challenging conditions. Drivers should remember that summer tires are not adequate for icy winter roads.
Winter tires offer significant advantages in snowy and icy conditions. Unlike summer tires, which are designed for warm weather and tend to harden in low temperatures, winter tires are made from a softer rubber compound that remains flexible in cold weather, providing better traction and handling.
When evaluating whether a car needs new winter tires, consider the following:
- Tread Depth: Winter tires should have at least 4/32 inches of tread depth to navigate safely through snow and ice. A simple way to measure this is the penny test: insert a penny into the tread with Lincoln’s head facing down; if the top of his head is visible, the tread is too shallow.
- Tire Condition: Check for any visible damage, such as cracks, cuts, or bulges on the sidewalls, and uneven or excessive tread wear. These signs can indicate that the tires need replacing.
- Age of Tires: Rubber compounds in tires deteriorate over time. Tires that are older than 5-6 years may not perform optimally, even if they appear to have adequate tread depth.
- Performance Issues: In the video, if you notice cars struggling to stop, sliding, or failing to maintain control on icy roads, it’s a clear indicator that those vehicles might need new winter tires.
- Type of Tires: Ensure the tires are designated for winter use. Winter tires have specific markings, like a snowflake or mountain symbol, indicating they meet the required standards for snow and ice traction.
The advantages of winter tires are substantial, especially in regions like Wisconsin that experience harsh winter conditions. They provide enhanced grip on icy and snowy roads, reduce stopping distances, and improve overall vehicle handling and safety in winter conditions. It’s crucial to remember that all-season tires, while versatile, don’t offer the same level of performance and safety as winter tires in severe cold weather conditions. Therefore, it’s recommended to make the switch to winter tires to ensure safe driving during the winter months.