The Ultimate Winter Driving Question. Winter Tires vs. All-Season Tires vs. All-Wheel Drive?Sep 17th, 2018
It’s almost winter, and how you prepare for it, especially driving, can make a big difference. Some people will tell you, if you have all-wheel drive you don’t need winter tires. And others will tell you if you have winter tires you don’t need all-wheel drive. The truth is, neither are correct, because when it comes to winter driving, the more grip you can get on the roads, the better.
The tire industry invented the idea of the all-season tires a number of years ago and people took that as they don’t have to buy anything extra for winter. The truth is, all-season tires state M+S (mud and snow) on the side, but really don’t hold up to ice and snow. This really makes them three-season tires, a term you’re starting to hear the past couple years.
A lot of all-season tires are also promoted as being long-lasting – up to 130,000 kilometres. To have that kind of tread life and improve fuel economy, the rubber has to be harder. When the temperature gets below 7 degrees Celsius they become even more firm and brittle, essentially becoming hockey pucks that shoot across the ice. Great in the arena, not great on a busy highway.
Most people don’t realize that tires are the single most important safety feature on any vehicle. Your tires provide the only connection between your car and the road, and life-saving technologies like antilock brakes and electronic stability control cannot do their job if the tires don’t have a good grip on the pavement. Winter tires could actually be called, cold weather tires. The tread stays soft and their bigger blocks of rubber are able to more effectively grip the ice, slush or whatever conditions you’re driving through. Thus, bringing you up to speed quicker and helping you stop quicker as well.
In Consumer Reports tests, winter tires stopped six feet shorter, on average, than all-seasons on ice. And winter tires required a shorter distance – 22 feet less than all-seasons – to accelerate from 8 to 32 km/h on moderately packed snow.
All-wheel drive doesn’t make a difference in stopping either – in fact, heavier all-wheel-drive vehicles can take even longer than a two-wheel-drive vehicle to stop on all-seasons. At the end of the day, all-wheel drive, though great, is a performance feature, not a safety feature, and it has nothing to do with braking and cornering. With all-wheel drive you can accelerate pretty good on snow from a stoplight, but when you have to stop, physics always wins.
So should you buy winter tires? Absolutely. Especially if you have an all-wheel drive vehicle. Take that available grip and spread it to all four corners for acceleration, and when it’s time to brake and steer, your winter tires will really excel and could just save you from an emergency situation.
The magic time for winter tires is when the temperature hits 7 degrees Celsius. That’s when the performance of tire varieties really starts to take shape. This tends to be in October, but in Saskatoon, Edmonton or anywhere in Canada for that matter, that’s never a given. To ensure you’re ready for the first snowfall, avoid lineups and get the full selection of tire options, now is the time to start your search. That search should begin at the FFUN Motor Group tire headquarters, www.treadnation.ca. Shop online and get the best savings and benefits in the Saskatchewan market today.