As winter approaches, you may be wondering about some of the differences between winter, all-weather, and all-season tires. All-season tires, contrary to what their name indicates, are really only designed to be driven in spring, summer and fall conditions. All-weather tires, on the other hand, are designed to handle some winter conditions, but they’re really better suited for the types of winters you might have in a place like Vancouver where slush and heavy rain are your primary winter concerns, rather than the types of winter conditions we’re used to in Edmonton.
When it comes to real cold, snowy, and icy winter conditions, nothing else compares to a good set of winter tires.
Here are four reasons to choose winter tires if you live in Alberta.
Stopping power is the main reason people choose winter tires over any other type of tire for cold weather driving. And it’s not just ice and snow that winter tires are designed to deal with; winter tires will stop better than any other type of tire under any cold weather conditions – even dry pavement. According to a Traffic Injury Research Foundation report, “With temperatures just below freezing and on dry pavement, stopping distance for vehicles equipped with all-season tires is 30% longer than for vehicles with winter tires.” This same report also found that the amount of traction winter tires demonstrate at -40°C is better than the amount of traction all-season tires demonstrate at 4°C. All of this adds up to dramatically improved stopping power, even in less-than extreme winter conditions.
It’s a common assumption that a tire’s ability to grip is determined by its tread, but while tread does help tires maintain their grip, the main reason winter tires perform so well in the cold is because they’re made out of a different type of rubber compound than other tires. It’s this specially designed compound that allows winter tires to stay soft when the weather dips below zero. Other tires will harden under cold temperatures, which causes them to slip, but because winter tires stay soft, they stick to the ground, giving you better control when cornering and accelerating.
Water is always a concern with winter driving, even on dry snow. That’s because when your tires roll over a patch of snow, the pressure from the tires will cause the top layer of the snow to melt. This is why tread design on winter tires is important; the right tread will help to disperse the water that builds up under your tires as you roll over snow or ice. This tread design also means that winter tires will perform better under wet conditions such as heavy rain or melting snow.
Some people think they don’t need winter tires because their vehicle is already equipped with safety systems such as all-wheel drive or anti-lock brakes. The problem is that these systems, however useful they may be, can only work with the traction that’s available. Without the right grip on the road surface, anti-lock brakes won’t do enough on their own to prevent you from sliding. Similarly, with all-wheel drive, while you may be able to accelerate better when all four wheels are being used together, this feature doesn’t actually help you stop any better than a two-wheel drive system. So even if you have these additional safety features built in to your vehicle, you can dramatically improve the performance of these features by adding a good set of winter tires into the mix.
Of course, even once you’ve made the decision to use winter tires, there are still plenty of different brands and models to choose from. If you’d like to know more about which type of winter tires might be best for your vehicle, we recommend you stop by your local tire shop to inquire with an expert.