by Joel Jacobson
A good snow tire can be like your best friend
Yes, a good snow tire can be like your best friend, especially in heavy snow. If you live in an area that gets a lot of heavy snow that covers roads, an all terrain type of tire may not do the job.
As temperatures drop below -10 Celsius, rubber compound in all season tires sometimes loose their grip because the tires harden in the cold. A snow tire improves traction by allowing the tire to rid itself of snow as it rolls, giving it a good bite on the road, especially in heavy snow.
Years ago a snow tire would be knobby and noisy. They were good in snow, but not very good traction in wet and dry conditions. With today’s new rubber compounds, a snow tire can handle dry, wet or slushy weather.
As a general rule of thumb, you should mount identical tires on all wheels.
Tread patterns, manufacturer, and construction or size should all be the same. Most vehicles are now FWD (front wheel drive), and the theory is a bit different from when most vehicles were RWD (rear wheel drive). FWD needs forward (linear) traction, as well as lateral (side to side) traction to prevent spin out and loss of control. If you are going to equip your FWD vehicle with snow tires, make sure you have four good tires. Two on the front for linear traction and two in the rear for lateral traction for skid control.
Few manufacturers still use the term snow tires, and now over the past couple of years the name has been dropped by most manufacturers in favor of winter tires. The reason is because dedicated winter tires are designed to handle more than just snow. For really hard core conditions, there are severe snow condition tires and can handle the worst snow packed and icy roads.
There are two components that make up a good snow tire; biting edges and tread compound. A good snow tire will have a tread compound that is designed stay pliable when the weather drops below freezing. A flexible snow tire will grip the road better than a tire that is rock hard.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) has developed a snow tire icon which is graphic of a snowflake on a mountain that appears on the tire’s sidewall. Tires that score a 110 or higher on traction index while undergoing American Society for Testing and Materials traction tests on packed snow are able to use this snowflake icon on their tires.
Proper inflation of tires is important, and it’s no different with a snow tire. It good potentially damage the tire and put the driver in jeopardy. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended specifications for proper tire inflation.
If you live in a heavily snow covered area, a good snow tire may be your best bet when it comes to choosing a tire that’s going to get you safely from point A to point B in heavy snow.
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