If you drive in an area that experiences cold weather – and if safety is important to you – then yes, you need winter tires.
Can you wear sandals in the winter? Sure. But your feet are going to get cold and you might slide around on the ice. Why? Because sandals are engineered for summer use.
On the other hand, winter tires – like boots – are engineered for both the slippery conditions caused by snow, slush and ice and for colder temperatures. They have a unique tread design that is made for digging down and biting into snow, slush and ice. A Consumer Reports test found that snow tires are 40% better when it comes to snow traction and 15% better in ice. Let that sink in for a moment (no pun intended): 40% better traction. Imagine an Olympic runner beating his or her time by 40%. Imagine a professional baseball player improving his batting average by 40%. Imagine getting a 40% raise. It’s more than a small difference.
A lot of people consider traction in snow and ice to be a big factor when purchasing a vehicle. Having an AWD or 4WD vehicle is non-negotiable for many shoppers. And certainly, having a vehicle equipped with 4WD will improve your traction in snowy conditions. However, the decision to equip your vehicle with snow tires is not only also important, it’s potentially more important.
Don’t believe us? Take a look at this video, which shows a Rear-Wheel-Drive vehicle equipped with snow tires easily outperforming a 4WD vehicle with summer tires on a snowy hill.
You still need winter tires. They’re built with rubber compounds and other components that keep them flexible in temperatures below 45°F. The flexibility allows them to provide better handling and stopping, even when there is no snow but the temperature is low.
All-season tires are built for, you know, all seasons, right? Sort of. The reality is, designing tires is an exercise in compromise. All-season tires split the difference between summer and winter tires, making them neither the best nor the worst choice in either temperature.
So it’s sort of like wearing sneakers all year long. They’re okay in summer, but not as good as sandals. They’re okay in winter, but not as good as boots. So they’re…okay. The question is, is “okay” an acceptable level of risk when you’re talking about the 4 pieces of rubber separating you and your 2-ton vehicle from the pavement.
No. You need to change all 4 tires. If you already drive with winter tires, you’ll realize they provide so much better traction that only installing one set will result in one end of your car slipping around and the other end sticking to the road. When it comes to keeping yourself, your family and your car safe this winter, you’re going to want all four tires sticking to the road, not just two.
Tires are expensive, there’s no way around it. But snow tires are less of an expense and more of an investment. What’s the difference? An expense is an outflow of money that meets a short-term need, where as an investment is an outflow of money in the present with the promise of a larger reward in the future. What is the reward with snow tires? Besides the obvious – the safety and well-being of you and your family – winter tires are also an investment in your vehicle. If you drive a nicer, newer car, truck or SUV, the chances of incurring weather-related damage is significantly decreased by using tires made for the proper season. And even minor body damage can be very expensive to fix.
They’re also an investment in your summer tires. Winter tires, on average, aren’t significantly more expensive than summer tires, and tires age with miles. While your summer tires are hibernating for the winter, they’re also not aging. In other words, two sets of summer tires used back-to-back will last you approximately the same amount of time as one set of winter tires and one set of summer tires switched back and forth. While owning two sets of tires at the same time requires a larger upfront cost, the overall cost is the same. The only true expense is the cost of switching the tires twice a year. At the Hershey Motors Service Department, the cost to switch the tires is the same as any mount and balance: $19.99 per tire. Since you have to switch them twice a year, that comes to approximately $159.92. That’s a bargain for 40% better traction.
Everyone is busy. Everyone’s time is limited. Nobody wants to spend it scheduling trips to the local service department to have tires switched twice a year. And really…what’s the harm? I’ve driven countless winters on summer tires and had no problems. Similar arguments are made all the time for not wearing a seat belt in a car or a helmet on a motorcycle, for not getting your regular checkup from the dentist or doctor, or eating right and taking your vitamins. It’s understandable – why spend time and money I don’t have protecting myself from something that may never happen? Which is sound logic…up and until it isn’t.
So change your oil regularly, get your teeth cleaned every 6 months, and always, always, always use winter tires in the winter.
For more information about snow tires or any preventative maintenance for your vehicle, call the Hershey Motors Service Department at 610-857-5283. They’re happy to answer any questions you may have about the care and feeding of your car, truck or SUV!