Old man winter is on his way, sweeping inland from the Pacific and pelting us with rain, ice, and snow. He also brings with him a flurry of questions like: What is the difference between winter tires and all-season tires? Are winter tires worth the investment? These are great questions. The bottom line is that having the right tires matters when you’re exposed to the diverse driving conditions that we experience here in the Pacific Northwest.
HOW DIFFERENT TIRES PERFORM ON ICE
Tests are run by tire companies every year, and they consistently show that winter tires perform far better than regular tires on ice. Much of this is a result of the rubber compound that makes up the tire. All season tires are made up of a rubber tread compound which stiffens as the temperature drops, resulting in less traction and increased risk of an accident. In contrast, the rubber on winter tires is designed to remain flexible, which allows the tire to grip the road better. This won’t completely eliminate the risk of sliding on ice, but it dramatically reduces the risk. You’ll have much more control with winter tires than you will with all-season tires.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ALL-SEASON AND WINTER TIRE TREAD PATTERN
All-season tire tread is engineered for a longer life span, better gas mileage, and a comfortably quiet ride. This makes these tires ideal for Spring, Summer and Fall, especially when you consider the variety of terrain we have in the Pacific Northwest. Whether you’re hitting the gravel mountain roads for a relaxing weekend get-away or cruising down I5 for some city life excitement, all-season tires will serve you well during these seasons.
The winter months tell a different story. Winter tire tread patterns are very unique in their ability to cut through the snow and slush – pushing water away from the tire and creating better traction. They also have high sipe density (thousands of tiny slits) that create a biting edge, which helps when it comes to turning stability and stop control. When winter comes to the Pacific Northwest, winter tires are the best choice. In a climate like ours, we never know what kind of wintery weather mix old man winter has in store for us, so it’s best to be prepared for anything.
BENEFITS OF WINTER AND ALL-SEASON TIRES
Now that we understand the difference between winter and all-season tires, are winter tires worth the investment? Our answer is 100% yes. By alternating between winter and all-season tires throughout the year, you can extend the life of your tires and end up saving money in the long run. The most important benefit of winter tires though, is something you come across when you’re behind the wheel and you hit that unpredictable PNW winter weather. That safety net that quality winter tires give you with their stable performance and stopping power is what really makes them worth every penny.
A FEW TIPS FOR WINTER TIRES
- Winter tires are a great choice for any vehicle: front-wheel, rear-wheel, and all-wheel.
- For best results, be sure to buy a set of four winter tires. Installing only two on the drive tires can cause unpredictable handling and is dangerous to you and other drivers.
- Mounting your winter tires onto a second set of wheels will cut the cost of mounting and dismounting every spring and fall. You’ll save money this way.
- Accelerate and deaccelerate slowly for better traction and less slippage.
- Increase distance between you and the car in front of you.
- Wait 5 extra seconds or look both ways for traffic that doesn’t seem to be stopping after a light turns green before you pull into the intersection.
If you have any questions about winter or all-season tires, give our professional mechanics a call. Remember that when it comes to winter driving; slow down, brake gently, and stay alert. Let’s have a safe, and stress-free winter!