When the warm summer air gives way to the chill of an impending winter, some of you are probably thinking more about fading tans and lost beach days than you are about car care. We understand that anything related to cold weather might be a sore subject. However, snow tires (also known as “winter tires”) are tremendously important for your safety if you live in a snowy climate, and it’s important to know when to switch over to them.
Winter tires, marked with a snowflake symbol, are made with special low temperature resiliant rubber compounds and have deep treads that grip unplowed snow, ice and other inclement conditions under your wheels. All-season tires, regardless of being branded with M+S for Mud and Snow, might not be suitable in heavy snow.
Robert Abram, product planning manager at Yokohama Tire Corporation describes the difference: “The compounding and tread designs for winter tires are altered from traditional all-season tires to maximize grip. Even the best all-season tires have compounds that get more brittle as the temperature drops, and when that happens, the tires tend to grip less. The winter tire compound remains pliable when temperatures are low, retaining grip.”