What Makes A Good Winter Tire?
November 19, 2021
When the temperature starts to drop and winter comes rolling in, one common thought creeping in on folks in the northern states is “Do I need to put my winter tires on now??”. Winter can be brutal, especially in the Midwest, so winter tires are beneficial for those who need to use their trucks to get them from point A to point B during the cold, snowy months. Plus, if you use your truck for towing, plowing, or other strenuous use during the winter, you want to have confidence your tires are delivering you the best driving experience possible. There are a lot of options out there for tires. But, what makes the best winter tire?
- Can You Use Winter Tires All Year?
- Why You Should Get Winter Tires?
- What Makes a Good Winter Tire?
- Final Thoughts
Can you Use Winter Tires All Year?
Can you? Of course, it’s your truck. Should you? It’s not recommended. Winter tires are often constructed of rubber that isn’t as effective as dispersing heat because it works best in the cold. So putting winter tires on the highway in the summertime will increase your risk of over-inflating and blowouts. So, it’s not the safest recommendation.
It’s also not very cost-effective. Not only could you blow them out and have to buy new ones, but the flexible tread rubber used to provide extra grip in the winter will wear down quicker in non-winter conditions. So, by the time winter rolls around, it’s possible you will have worn down your winter tires to the point they’re not going to even be effective anymore. So then, if you really need them, you’ll need to buy ANOTHER set of winter tires. Avoid the hassle, don’t use your winter tires all year if you don’t have to.
Why You Should Get Winter Tires
A large portion of American roads are covered in ice or snow at some point during the winter season. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 25% of accidents happen in icy, slushy, or snowy conditions as they often negatively affect your truck’s traction and handling capabilities, resulting in skidding and fishtailing. So when the driving odds are stacked against you, it’s not a bad idea to make sure your truck is well-equipped once you hit the highway during January.
Even if it isn’t necessarily very snowy where you live during the winter, even colder temperatures can harden the rubber on your non-winter tires. Rubber on winter tires will stay flexible in the cold, offering more stability and traction. If you live in a winter region, it is a good idea to put on snow tires if it’s an option for you, but only about ⅓ of drivers actually end up putting winter tires on.
What Makes a Good Winter Tire?
If you’re looking to join the crowd of folks that put on winter tires, here are a couple of tips and features to look for when looking for an effective winter tire and how to install them.
Look for tread patterns that feature deep tread depths along with increased sipes. The extra sipes will act as “biting edges” on the snow and ice so you have more grip and control on wintery roads. These features will also help channel away slush and water to keep the tread open to dig even deeper into the surface.
Tires with a higher percentage of natural rubber and silica are desirable for winter tires because this rubber compound is what causes them to stay softer in cold conditions to maintain better traction.
Tires with more small-tread areas make effective winter tires because they assist in helping water escape the tires, reducing the risk of hydroplaning. Often, people are drawn toward tires with large tread blocks, commonly all-terrain tires, because of the aggressive look it brings to their build. However, larger tread blocks don’t leave as much room for the increased slots and sipes. You’ll often see winter tires with a directional tread pattern because of this.
Save yourself the hassle of having to mount and un-mount tires every year. Get your winter tires mounted to another set of wheels so you can just change out the wheels/tires together. It’s so much easier than having to go to the local shop, lugging your tires, and then paying to get your winter and normal tires mounted when you’re ready to switch. Plus, packaging your wheels and tires together is the most cost-effective way to get your wheels and tires.
Be mindful of when you put your winter tires on and take them off. When you start seeing your breath outside, it’s officially getting cold enough for winter tires. Once that starts going away, it might be time to take them off so they don’t wear out quickly in warmer months.
Many all-season or all-terrain tires are popular options to put on your truck because they can perform in the snow as well. Some all-season and all-terrain tires are 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake certified, meaning they exceed the Rubber Manufacturer Association’s severe snow traction requirements. So if you’re not looking to get separate winter tires, look for this symbol when combing through tire options.
Truck Winter Tire Brands to Look For
Popular All-Season & All-Terrain Alternatives
- BFGoodrich All Terrain TA KO2
- Falken WildPeak AT3W
- Mickey Thompson Baja Boss
- Cooper Discoverer AT3
- Nitto Terra Grappler G2 (Select Sizes are 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake certified)
There are obvious benefits of slapping some winter tires on your truck if it’s attainable. You’ll up your safety and confidence in your tires on wintery roads, all while extending the life of your non-winter tires. However, shelling out an extra chunk of cash for winter wheels and tires might not be reasonable for everyone, so be conscious about picking your year-round tires if you’re someone who experiences cold, icy, or snowy winter months. There are a handful of great all-season and all-terrain tire options that will perform alright in all weather conditions, and people gravitate toward them so they don’t have to spend extra on winter tires (They also look really good on your build!). Check out available financing options if you’re interested in upgrading your wheels and tires, but just don’t have enough saved up yet! You can make LOW monthly payments instead, all WHILE building your credit!