Winter & Snow Tires
If you live in a region that is consistently below 45 degrees in the winter, an area that experiences consistent snowfall year to year, where the roads freeze over frequently, or in an area with elevation changes and cold weather, you will definitely benefit from a set of snow tires
Some of our most popular brands are Toyo, Goodyear, Michelin, and Cooper.
Winter Tire Construction
What makes snow tires different from regular tires?
There are two main differences between snow tires and all season or summer tires. The first is the tread compounding. Most snow tires feature a softer tread compound, usually with increased silica and natural rubber compounds, and less synthetic rubber. The purpose of the softer compound is to operate at their peak in low ambient temperatures, thus maximizing road grip in the winter. The other main difference is in the amount and type of the tires’ tread sipes. Sipes are the small cuts and grooves that appear all over the face of a tire. They represent thousands of biting edges that grab the road and stick to it as the tire rotates.
Why don’t all-season tires have as many sipes?
The answer is heat. The problem with a tire with a lot of sipes on their tread face is those sipes move and wiggle as they contact the road surface. This movement creates heat. Since winter or snow tires are designed to run in colder temperatures, this is not an issue for them. With an all season tire on the other hand, they must also work in the hottest temperatures of summer, and would build up too much heat in those conditions if their tread had similar siping to winter tires.
Is there and easy way to identify a snow/winter tire?
Almost all snow/winter tires now carry the snowflake inside of a mountain symbol that signifies the tires have passed the stringent US Rubber Manufacturers Association requirements for a winter tire product. The standard dictates that a winter tire product must perform at 110% or greater of a control all season tire. This means they are rated for and qualified for use in winter/severe snow use.
Choosing A Winter Tire
Like most tires, there are many things to consider before purchasing snow/winter tires. Primarily they are: vehicle, terrain, driver preferences, and budget. At Tread Depot we have experts on hand ready to help you choose the right snow tires for your vehicle.
Do I really need snow tires?
If you live in a region that is consistently below 45 degrees in the winter, an area that experiences snowfall consistently year over year, or in an area with elevation changes and cold weather, you need snow tires. If you live in an area where roads frequently ice over, or the roads are not well groomed in wintry conditions, you may also need snow tires, even if it is not a region that typically experiences heavy snowfall. Safety is the primary concern with snow tires. They simply brake better, corner more confidently, and accelerate better than other tires do in wintry conditions.
What if it doesn’t snow where I live, but does get cold in the winter?
Your vehicle will still greatly benefit from applying winter tires in the cold months. The compounding found in snow tires works better than all-season tires in cold weather, by remaining more flexible. This allows them to better adhere to the road surface.
I have all-season tires on my car, will those work?
All-season tires are somewhat the jack of all trades of tires. They are designed to handle most types of conditions we experience on our roadways throughout the year. Because of the inherent compromises that need to be made to work in all conditions, the all season tire is not a stellar performer in any of them. Think of a decathlon competitor. While they may be good at many different events, when compared to the very best competitors in any one of the specific disciplines, they often pale by comparison. Snow or winter tires are designed for a specific range of temperatures and certain road conditions. For this reason, they excel when compared to all- season tires on wintry roads.
How many winter tires should I buy for my vehicle?
4 TIRES, ALWAYS!! A popular misconception with snow tires is that they need only be put on the drive axle of the vehicle (or on the front of a front wheel drive vehicle, or the rear of a rear wheel drive vehicle). Using a combination of snow tires and all season or summer tires on the same vehicle creates unpredictable and unsafe handling. On front wheel drive cars, the front axle is responsible for steering, turning and braking. However, the rear tires are always expected to stay in line as the vehicle turns. They are also required to apply the braking force of the rear brakes. Imagine a scenario where you are slowing down and turning (as in most corners). With a front wheel drive car fitted with only front winter tires, the back end of the car has less grip than the front. This unsettles the car, and in our slowing down and turning example, can induce a spin, or worse. On rear wheel drive vehicles, the rear tires provide propulsion. They are not intended to apply steering input, and very little of the braking forces needed to stop the car or truck. This is why snow tires should be applied to all four corners of your vehicle, regardless of its platform.
Choosing A Winter Tire
My car or truck is all wheel drive, do I still need snow tires?
Absolutely! All Wheel drive vehicles are excellent at putting their available power to the ground; But all things being equal, their all wheel drive layout does not enhance braking or cornering grip. For this reason, they still greatly benefit from the additional cornering traction and stopping power provided by snow tires on wintry roads.
Do I need winter tires to improve traction if my vehicle has Traction Control and ABS?
Yes! Traction control does not increase available grip – it just helps maximize the use of what is available. The same goes for ABS. They can keep your brakes from locking, but do not increase the stopping power of the car. In order to increase your grip on wintry roads, you need snow tires. They will raise the accelerating, cornering and braking grip available – and help augment systems like ABS and traction control.
Winter Tire Use & Care
Can I leave my snow tires on throughout the year?
As mentioned above, snow or winter tires are designed to operate within a certain temperature range (typically below 45 degrees Fahrenheit). Because of their softer compounds, and the extensive tread siping, it is better to remove them from service when average daily temperatures rise above 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do I need to run different air pressure with snow tires?
Typically, yes. The door placard in your vehicle specifies air pressures for a wide variety of ambient temperatures. Since winter tires operate only during cold winter months you can typically run 3-5 psi higher pressures to achieve optimal performance. Check with the tire manufacturer to be sure about the right pressures for your application.
Changing out my tires at the beginning and end of winter is a hassle. Is there a better way?
Buying a set of winter tires along with some inexpensive wheels is a good choice. We have aluminum and alloy wheels at very inexpensive prices that hold up well to wintry road conditions and will compliment your snow tire investment well. With the tire and wheel package, all you have to do is take of your summer/all season tire package, and replace with your snow tires and vice versa.
What is the best way to store my winter tires when not is use?
Like most tires, snow tires should be stored in a dark, dry environment – preferably kept deflated, or at least without weight on them to create flat spotting.