Usually, car owners keep a separate set of winter or snow tires to make driving safe and comfortable during harsh winters. However, they have no idea that there are three different categories of winter tires out there – Performance Winter Tires, Studded Winter Tires and Studless Winter Tires. Each type has their own uses and this article educates its readers about them.
|Many believe that AWD and 4WD cars drive fine without winter tires. They are wrong! Yes, AWD and 4WD cars do provide better control than FWD or RWD cars, but their usability mainly depends on the traction provided by the tire. Hence, winter tires are the ideal choice for better traction and control during snow.|
When snow and ice begin forming on the roads, it is time to bring out a good set of winter tires. Even vehicles with all-season tires need to get tires made specially for the winters. While all-season tires might work fine, it is much safer to use something that is specially designed to improve traction on snowy and icy roads. The main difference between all season and winter tires can be recognized by the tread pattern. The treads in winter tires are specially designed to bite down the snow and improve traction for better handling conditions. They are made from soft rubber which adapts according to the road conditions and remains flexible even in freezing temperatures. Normal tires are made from hard rubber that doesn’t provide a good grip during low temperatures.
Before moving to the best brands of winter tires, it is essential to know the different types to make a better purchase.
Performance Winter Tires
These tires are designed for improving the overall performance of the vehicle and give drivers the much-needed grip during winters. They have high speed-rated standards and are ideal for areas receiving moderate snowfall. Traction won’t be as strong as with studded winter tires, but it does provide the necessary grip without compromising on the overall driving experience.
Popular Choices: Bridgestone Blizzak LM-25/LM-32/LM-60 RFT, ContiWinterContact TS810 S, Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D/4D/M3, Michelin Pilot Alpin PA2/PA3/PA4, and Pirelli Winter Snowcontrol Serie II
Studless Winter Tires
This popular type was brought into the market in the 1990s and are the preferred choice in many countries. The rubber used in making these tires is usually softer than normal tires. They are fitted with microscopic pores which increase grip and are often considered at par with studded tires when it comes to traction. Studless tires work by applying the entire contact patch and rubber to produce a firm grip on the ice.
Popular Choices: Bridgestone Blizzak LM-50 RFT, Bridgestone Blizzak MZ-03, Continental ExtremeWinterContact, Dunlop Graspic DS-3, Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice, and Michelin X-Ice Xi2/Xi3
Studded Winter Tires
Perhaps the best winter tires for areas receiving heavy snowfall, studded tires have 60 to 100 small metal studs inserted in them. These studs are made of tungsten (a hard and durable metal). Studded tires provide the maximum amount of traction in comparison to the previous types on snowy roads. However, the studs do bite the road with the snow and are banned in many states.
Popular Choices: Firestone Winterforce, General Altimax Arctic, Pirelli Winter Carving, and Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter
Important Points to Remember
- Avoid using a combination of all season and winter tires. Using two different types of tires increases the chances of sliding and other driving control issues. Ensure that all the four tires are of the same brand, tread pattern, size, model, and type.
- Before purchasing winter tires, check for the snowflake on mountain symbol on the tire’s sidewall. The symbol indicates that the tires have been tested, and meet all the necessary winter traction standards.
- Ensure that the tires are properly inflated at all times. In winters check tire pressure at least once a week.
In addition to winter tires, tire chains are also a popular concept to provide maximum traction when driving through snow and ice. These chains are attached to the wheels and must be purchased according to the size of the tires. They help increase traction but do reduce mileage and the speed of the automobile.