One Way to Save Money is to get Good Snow Tires for Winter

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010 By

Winter in the Snow Belt


Snow tires are a crucial thing to have in areas that are frequented by snowfall in the winter.  A recent article on Bankrate discusses the importance of investing in a good set of snow tires, and how the right investment can save money.

Matt Edmonds, VP of Tire Rack said, “Changing to snow tires is a lot like changing your shoes. When the weather gets bad and we want the ultimate in terms of control and safety, we put on a good pair of winter boots. The same goes for tires.” Having good tires is key in areas where snow hits hardest. The US Snow Belt is a prime area for cars having problems with traction and safety. One of the easiest ways consumers can protect themselves during travel is to get a good set of snow tires for the winter season.

Are snow tires really worth it?

Wearing down of your traction starts way before winter. Normally traction loss begins at about 40° Fahrenheit and anything lower than that can reduce grip quickly. Edmonds added, “At 32° Fahrenheit, the summer tires found on many high-performance vehicles are so stiff they offer no traction at all.” Winter tires are designed to provide maximum traction in snow, ice, slush and sleet. They have deeper treads and utilize silicone-rubber compound that keeps them pliant and flexible on winter roads. Having outstanding flexibility is necessary when it comes to maneuvering bad weather and tough roads.

The US Rubber Manufacturers Association

In 1999, the US Rubber Manufacturers Association, or RMA, agreed on a unified standard when it comes to vehicles and traction in the snow. The logo to signify that a tire is reliable in winter is a “snowflake in the mountain.” Your local tire dealer can let you know which tires are made with the RMA-logo. Steve Jambor, manager of a tire service in Greenfield, Wisconsin, said, “Winter tires fall into one of two categories: stud-less ice-and-snow tires and performance winter tires. The former use a silicone rubber compound and they give much better traction in ice and snow.”

When looking for snow tires, look for narrow ones

Research has shown that narrow snow tires dig deeper into the snow and grip. They can considerably increase driving safety on roads. Wider tires tend to “float” over snow, rather than maneuver efficiently through it. Narrow snow tires on all four wheels can lessen the chances of a spin-out. Edmonds added, “It is a safety issue because so many vehicles today utilize stability control, traction control and anti-lock brake technologies that monitor and modulate wheel-speed and wheel-rotation at all four corners of the vehicle.”

The one downside

Despite the many virtues of getting snow tires, there is one downside: cost. Normally snow tires can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 per tire, depending on the size. In addition, changing snow tires for regular ones can cost. Jambor added, “Mounting and dismounting a tire places a lot of stress and wear upon the tire’s bead and shortens its life.” Swapping out tires twice a year can get costly. Despite the financial challenges, changing tires twice a year can save a lot in terms of accidents. Having good snow tires proves to be an invaluable expense to include in your yearly budget.

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