It may be closer to spring than winter, but Colorado weather doesn't always stick to the script. With snow storms becoming more prevalent well into warmer seasons it's better to be more prepared and knowledgeable about your options.
Driving in snow and ice is not easy. You can make the experience safer and less stressful by choosing the right tires for your vehicle. Some common options are regular snow tires, studded snow tires, or snow chains. Some areas restrict the use of studded tires while others require chains to access the roadways.
Some drivers will use summer tires while it’s snowing, but seasonal switches are essential for road safety. You never know what the winter months may bring, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. In fact, Consumer Reports released an article back in 2014 advising that some summer tires can crack in the winter. If you live in an area where you have light snow, all-season tires may work. However, the tread hardens in freezing temperatures, resulting in improper traction.
Regular Snow Tires
Unlike all-season tires, snow tires are specifically designed for snow conditions. Snow tires have a different tread design to provide a better grip on icy and snowy roadways. These tires are also made of a softer and more flexible rubber. Regular rubber will harden in cold weather, whereas snow tires will adjust to the surface of the road.
Also, using snow tires will make steering and stopping on slick surfaces easier. They also work to prevent your vehicle from becoming stuck. On the other hand, a drawback to using snow tires is that they must be changed during summer months. The softer rubber will wear out quickly in warmer conditions.
Studded Snow Tires
Studded snow tires take the regular snow tire to a higher traction level by adding studs to the treads. The studs are made from either metal or rubber, and they are designed to bite into the snow and ice for a better grip. Consequently, there are disadvantages to using studded tires. For example, metal studs create a lot of noise and can dig harshly into asphalt. In areas with restrictions on the use of studs, you will have to change your tires seasonally.
Most states that permit the use of studded tires restrict the use to the winter season, and some states only allow rubber studs to be used. States also vary according to the type of vehicle. Many areas allow exceptions for mail carriers, school buses, and emergency vehicles. The majority of the states that ban the use of studded tires do make exceptions for non-residents traveling through the area. AAA also provides a state-by-state list of regulations regarding studded tires.
Snow chains provide a removable option for driving between clear and snow-covered roadways. Unfortunately, they can be difficult to install if you are not familiar with the procedure. If you have a two-wheel-drive vehicle, you should use chains on all four tires for the best response and handling.
State-by-state requirements for snow chain use vary. In some states, snow chains are required when a snow emergency is declared. Not only does snow chains provide the greatest amount of traction on packed snow, ice, and deep snow, they also cost less. Another advantage with chains is that they are easy to remove.
In conclusion, regular snow tires, studded tires, and snow chains are all great options for driving during harsh winters. If you occasionally travel through heavy ice and snow, you may want to keep a set of chains in the trunk of your vehicle. Also, consider speaking with a professional if you are looking to purchase tires but not sure which one is best for your specific situation.