(This copyright article was previously posted by Advanced Drivers of North America in 2017 and is reproduced here by permission.)
Which is better on winter roads: a two-wheel drive car with winter tires or a similarly-sized, four-wheel drive vehicle (such as an SUV or pick-up truck) with all-season tyres? … The answer may surprise you.
How much do you genuinely know about tire grip and traction — and therefore about safety — on winter roads?
Before watching the video clip that is linked below, try answering the following questions and see whether you get them all correct:
- Which can accelerate the best from a standstill on slippery, winter roads: a two-wheel drive [2WD] car with winter tires or a similarly-sized four-wheel drive [4WD] vehicle (such as an SUV or many pick-up trucks) with all-season tires?
- Which can brake and stop quickest on slippery, winter roads: a 2WD car with winter tires or a similarly-sized 4WD vehicle with all-season tires?
- Which has the best/safest grip on a slippery curve in winter: a 2WD car with winter tires or a similarly-sized 4WD vehicle with all-season tires?
- Which can get UP a slippery hill most easily in winter: a 2WD car with winter tires or a similarly-sized, 4WD vehicle with all-season tires.
- Which can drive DOWN a slippery hill most safely in winter: a 2WD car with winter tires or a similarly-sized 4WD vehicle with all-season tires?
Now watch this extremely important, informative video clip about seasonal use of tires, from Autocar.
Remember, too, that despite their name, snow tyres or winter tires can be very beneficial even when there is no snow or ice. The rubber compound that’s used to construct them can give your vehicle significantly better grip whenever the road surface temperature simply falls below 45 degrees fahrenheit (7 Celsius), however using them for long periods above those temperatures can cause heavy wear and also reduce tire grip on the asphalt.
Final Key Point
If you think buying an extra set of tires is very expensive, please consider these two points:
- If you get two sets of tires — one for summer and one for winter — then your summer tires will only be on the car for around six months a year instead of twelve, so they will last twice as many years as they would have done. Having the two sets will last you twice as many years as just one set would have done, so yes there’s an up front cost but after that inconvenience it is the same price as it would have been anyway;
- The key point, of course, is how much your life and your loved ones’ lives are worth. Getting good winter tires is one of the most important things you can ever do in this context.
The Traffic Injury Research Foundation [TIRF] has published an excellent summary of the benefits of winter tires.
From MSN: Why You Shouldn’t Go for CHEAP Winter Tires and this includes another video (our upper case in the title, for emphasis).
There’s also an article on snow tires vs all-season tyres at Consumer Reports, although it doesn’t say enough about that important road temperature aspect.