Winter’s here and the thought of slippery driving doesn’t appeal much to most of us.
Those of us lucky to own all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicles think that’s all we need when the snow shows up. Tire shops advise otherwise and there’s good reasons for it. All-season tires are all-around compromises, soft enough for snow traction and hard enough to offer long-lasting pavement-pounding performance.
Snow tires on the other hand, are designed to do one thing: provide great winter-time traction. They stay pliable in sub-zero temperatures and have deeper grooves to better bite into deep snow and to better channel slush. The best snow tires on the market also offer “sipes” (narrow cuts) in the tread blocks. These sipes give these tires increased ice traction as the tire rotates, the sipes opening up and basically grabbing the ice as they create a vacuum against the ice. See the attached picture for a close-up.
So, what do I believe about all this? I can honestly say it works.
I have used proper snow tires on a front-wheel-drive car, a rear-wheel-drive car, and multiple all-wheel-drive cars. And every time they have provided much better traction, acceleration, braking, and directional stability, than regular/all-season tires.
My wife and I just installed a set of these late-model high-tech snow tires on our ’03 Subaru wagon. It’s the middle of January, and we have yet to get a good heavy snow storm to try them out in.
But we’re ready.