Are Winter Tires a Worthwhile Investment?

Are Winter Tires a Worthwhile Investment?

If you live somewhere that snows, you’ve probably questioned if winter tires are worth the money. These tips can assist.

When I first drove in a snowstorm, I couldn’t believe how out of control my car felt. I had trouble getting to my destination safely because I kept slipping and sliding. It felt like I was driving a car that was on skates but didn’t know how to skate. All I could do was point it in the “right” direction and hope it would stop in time for the next light.

From 2007 to 2016, weather caused 22% of all accidents and 16% of all crash deaths. This includes rain, sleet, fog, ice, and, of course, snow. Good tires are very important when driving, especially in bad weather. They give you grip, so you can drive safely in any condition. And if you live in a place where it snows, you might be wondering if it makes sense to buy winter tires.

Russell Shepherd, who is in charge of technical communications at Michelin, says, “Choosing the right tires can be one of the most important things you do when driving in the winter.” Tires are expensive, so it’s a good idea to think carefully before buying a second set for the winter.

Each tire’s tread pattern, design, and rubber compound are carefully made to help with traction, road noise, handling, stopping, and a lot more.

Credit: Getty Images

How do winter tires work?

“Winter tires are made with different rubber compounds and tread designs than your average all-season tire,” says Chris Han, marketing manager for Kumho Tires. “This makes them better at handling snow, ice, slush, and cold weather.” “These tires stay flexible even when it’s cold, and the tread has extra grooves to make stopping and steering easier in the winter, which are important safety features.”

Who needs winter tires?

To get winter tires or not to get winter tires—that is the question. When more than $500 is at stake, it can be hard to decide, so let’s break it down.

Even though this might seem obvious, car owners shouldn’t choose winter tires based on whether or not they have an all-wheel-drive car. “Vehicles with AWD or 4WD make it easier to drive and turn in the winter, but the tires you choose can make a big difference in how well you can stop,” says Shepherd. “Your tires are where the rubber meets the road when it comes to stopping on snow and ice.”

The condition of the roads in your area and how often you drive when it snows are important things to think about, along with your comfort, the way your car handles, and how well it stops.

“As a general rule, we recommend that people who live in areas where it snows often and the roads are often covered in snow and ice for weeks at a time buy a set of dedicated winter/snow tires,” says Ryan Pszczolkowski, who is in charge of tire testing at the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in Colchester, Conn.

Even if the roads in your area are usually cleared, if you work as a nurse, doctor, firefighter, or in any other job that requires you to go to work no matter what, snow tires are still a good investment. Also, winter tires are a good investment if you know they will make you feel safer while driving, no matter how bad the roads are or what you do for a living.

In the end, most people find that all-season tires are the best choice for their driving needs. All-weather tires could be a good choice if you want a tire that works better in all seasons but don’t want to spend the money on a separate set.

Han says, “All-weather tires work better in the winter, but they are not the same as winter tires.” “You can think of this kind of product as something in between an all-season tire and a winter tire that you can use all year without having to buy new tires, which can be expensive.” Before getting the three-peak-mountain snowflake symbol on the sidewall, all-weather tires go through real traction tests, just like winter tires, says Pszczolkowski.

Buying Winter Tires

The process of buying winter tires is almost the same as buying regular tires, with one big difference: as with any big purchase, you should do a lot of research on tires, especially snow tires, before you buy them.

But you need to do research on winter tires because you may not be able to find them for sale at certain times of the year. This isn’t just because you won’t be able to get the best price at the last minute. There are only a few sizes and quantities of winter tires, and they may sell out.

When to Install, and How to Store Your Tires

If you buy a set of winter tires, it’s important to know when to put them on and how to store them between seasons so they last as long as possible and help you stop your car instead of getting in the way.

Even though it might seem like saving money to keep your winter tires on all year, you should take them off after the winter season. Winter tires aren’t made to be driven on in warmer weather, and tests by Consumer Reports have shown that not only will they wear out quickly, but they will also take longer to stop and be harder to control.

“As a general rule, winter tires should be put on when temperatures start to drop below 40 degrees,” says Han. The exact date depends on a lot of things. “You should change your tires as soon as the weather gets warmer.”

Pszczolkowski says that you should get a different set of wheels for your winter tires. “Many people choose steel wheels, which are often cheaper, but you can also get aftermarket alloy wheels for a good price,” he says. “Putting them on different wheels makes it easier to switch them in the spring and fall because you don’t have to take them off and put them back on the same wheels.”

If you have two sets of wheels, it’s easier to store your tires without hurting them. “Either set of wheels and tires should be kept out of the sun and at room temperature when they are not being used,” says Pszczolkowski. “Tires do wear out over time, but this can help slow that down.”

Pszczolkowski says that it depends on the weather to decide whether or not to buy winter tires. But if you do decide to invest, do it right.