Snow Tires – A Margin of Safety

Boulder Colorado Snow TiresWinter (Snow) Tires – The Best Way to Insure a Safe Winter Driving Season  –  Driving your car on snowy or icy roads can be a stressful ordeal. Just one second of lost traction can create a heart-pounding loss of control with potentially devastating consequences.  One of the best “insurance policies” you can get to protect yourself, your family and others …. is a set of winter/snow tires. The Margin of Safety  –  Winter Tires are designed to deliver safety and control in snow, ice, and cold weather conditions. Many people mistakenly think that all-season tires can do the same, but that just isn’t true. Winter tires deliver as much as 25 to 50% more traction than all-season tires, which can very well be the margin you need to stop in time or turn to avoid trouble. What Makes Snow Tires Better Than Regular or All-Season Tires?  –  While Regular or All-Season tires tend to get hard and brittle in cold temperatures, snow tires are made from special, softer rubber compounds that retain their flexibility in cold weather improving traction, handling and braking in all cold weather conditions – not just ice and snow. In addition, winter tires have tread patterns that are specifically designed to dig down and “bite” into snow and ice, keeping a better grip on snowy and icy surfaces, which is critical – not just to avoid getting stuck, but to ensure that the car will stop and steer. Life-saving safety technologies such as antilock brakes, electronic stability control and all-wheel-drive can only do their jobs when the tires maintain their grip on the road surface. Can I Put Snow Tires on Just the Drive Wheels of my Car?  –  Putting just two snow tires on your car is a bad idea. If you have a front-wheel-drive car and put snow tires on the front only, the back wheels won’t have anywhere near as much grip as the front wheels. This will make the car much more likely to spin out while braking or cornering. Likewise, if you put snow tires on the just back wheels of a rear-wheel-drive car, the wheels that do the steering won’t grip as well as those that provide the power, so the car may not respond when the steering wheel is turned — it will simply plow straight ahead. Always install snow tires as a full set of four. What if My Vehicle has Traction Control?  Do I Still Need Winter Tires?  –  Although traction control can prevent wheel spin, it does not create additional tire traction. Traction always depends on the points making contact with the road – your tires. The better traction your tires provide, the more effectively the traction control system will work. Do ABS Brakes Eliminate the Need for Winter Tires?  –  An ABS braking system prevents “locking-up” the brakes by “pulsing” them as you apply pressure to the pedal. Remember that the tires on your vehicle supply the traction and help the ABS deliver faster stops. Tires built with better winter traction will improve overall braking performance on ice, snow, and cold roads. Can I Leave my Snow Tires on all Year?  –  You can, but it’s not a good idea. Because winter tires are made of softer rubber compounds they wear out faster, especially in warm weather. Wear is critical, because winter tires rely on their deep tread to dig into snow and ice.  The good news: If you’re savvy enough to use snow tires, you don’t need all-season tires for the rest of the year – you can instead choose a “summer” tire that will provide better handling and traction in the rain, or tires that provide a smoother, quieter ride. Do I Have to Mount & Balance my Tires Every Time I Change Over?  –  You can avoid the expense of mounting and balancing twice a year by simply purchasing an extra set of inexpensive wheels to use for your snow tires.  Have your auto repair shop find a set for you, or better yet – scavenge some from the salvage yard.  They don’t have to match as long as they are the same diameter and have the same bolt pattern as your car’s original wheels. Or, if you’ve purchased aftermarket wheels, keep the stock wheels and use those for your snow tires. That way, when it comes time to change from summer tires to snow tires, all you have to do is unbolt one set and bolt up the other. Ask us about inexpensive, off-season tire storage! Save Money and Enjoy Peace of Mind  –  In states like Colorado with severe winters, it just makes sense to utilize snow tires.  Not only will they afford you a safer, more secure driving experience, but they’ll save you money in the long run.  Utilizing tires with more flexible rubber and tread fibers with more “bite” in the winter, then tires with better handling in the rain and a smoother, quieter ride in the summer you’ll maximize the life of both getting the most out of your tires and your driving experience. …. Yearnin’ to Learn More?  (The following is an excerpt from enotes): Natural rubber is the main raw material used in manufacturing tires, although synthetic rubber is also used. In order to develop the proper characteristics of strength, resiliency, and wear-resistance, however, the rubber must be treated with a variety of chemicals and then heated. American inventor Charles Goodyear discovered the process of strengthening rubber, known as vulcanization or curing, by accident in 1839. He had been experimenting with rubber since 1830 but had been unable to develop a suitable curing process. During an experiment with a mixture of india rubber and sulfur, Goodyear dropped the mixture on a hot stove. A chemical reaction took place and, instead of melting, the rubber-sulfur mixture formed a hard lump. He continued his experiments until he could treat continuous sheets of rubber. The other primary ingredient in tire rubber is carbon black. Carbon black is a fine, soft powder created when crude oil or natural gas is burned with a limited amount of oxygen, causing incomplete combustion and creating a large amount of fine soot. So much carbon black is required for manufacturing tires that rail cars transport it and huge silos store the carbon black at the tire factory until it is needed. Sulfur and other chemicals are also used in tires. Specific chemicals, when mixed with rubber and then heated, produce specific tire characteristics such as high friction (but low mileage) for a racing tire or high mileage (but lower friction) for a passenger car tire. Some chemicals keep the rubber flexible while it is being shaped into a tire while other chemicals protect the rubber from the ultraviolet radiation in sunshine. To read more of this article, go to enotes.com  

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