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Monday
Jan212013

Winter Tires

Evolution of Winter TiresHave you noticed all the "talk" on winter tires, and do you need or not need winter tires, and so on.

If you have been around for a few years perhaps you remember driving in winter on bias/belted tires, and snow tires just in the rear (we are talking a few decades ago). The winter tire landscape has come a long way. 

Back in the day, belted tires and black ice/ice were an interesting combination in winter, and especially at night that would activate several stages of adrenalin in a few nano seconds. Although the advent of radial tires dramatically improved traction in winter/snow without resorting to winter tires. Black ice at night...until the arrival of ABS remained an adrenalin event.

All season tires will probably provide reasonable traction in winter with a rear wheel drive car. If its a vehicle with 70 or 60 series tires it will work even better. Although front wheel drive vehicles provide better traction to start, the rear of the vehicle can become unpredictable on poor traction conditions.

Here is the deal:

Being an enthusiast you are probably using at least 18 inch wheels in the summer with high performance summer tires. You know that these tires are "useless" in snow...since on a few occasions you have had that helpless feeling of almost no grip, and if the car has a positraction, its no grip and moving sideways to make it more interesting. 

Having high performance summer tires, and rear wheel drive, you need winter tires just to move. 

For winter tires you would come down one size and run 17 inch and a narrower tire, since floating on snow at speed still provides an adrenalin rush until the vehicle "lands" and hopefully nothing happened durng the "float". The "float" usually occurs when there is slush/snow and your speed is slightly higher, the tires will hydroplane on top of the slush/snow. 

If your vehicle is insured at $1,000. deductible for collision (to save money and you are a big boy/girl), and a set of winters will safeguard you from some minor incident, its worth the price of the tires. 

If you have an all wheel drive vehicle, keep in mind that you still need to stop, accelerating is easy, stopping is the challenge. 

If there are several vehicles in the household you need storage space to keep all these wheels and tires. 

In 2013 most vehicles have ABS, electronic stability, and traction control. hopefully you know how each of these features works, and reacts on your vehicle, with winter tires these features do a better job than with all season tires. If you have no idea how these features work on your vehicle, register for a winter driving course, or find a snowed in parking lot and discover the characteristics of ABS, try to do donuts, discover how the electronic stability works on your vehicle (before you get in more yogurt than you wished), and how traction control works on your vehicle.

The driver is the "traction manager" of the vehicle, more so in winter conditions. Understanding how your vehicle, and the systems in your vehicle function in adverse conditions is an absolute necessity. 

You also know that the first half of high performance summer tires is the good half, the second half not as good, and the same applies to winter tires the first half provides better grip than the second half. 

Yes...we have winter tires on all our vehicles.

 

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