Are Winter Tires Worth It?

Anyone who has attempted to drive up an icy hill in wintertime knows just how treacherous that can be. Next time you head out in your car when there’s snow and ice on the ground, winter tires can add a much-needed layer of comfort and protection.

Whether your circumstances warrant the use of them is another story. To figure out whether they make sense for you, take a closer look at what winter tires are and how they work.

Different Types of Winter Tires

As the temperatures dip below the low 40s, you may notice your standard tires starting to harden, allowing for less traction on the road. Winter tires are a possible solution. They get installed on all four wheels, regardless of the type of car. There are several options:

  • Snow tires – Also called winter tires, these tires are made of a special rubber that doesn’t stiffen in cold temperatures like standards tires do. Both the material and the tread design, which has larger gaps than conventional treads, increase the traction they provide on roads packed with snow and slush.
  • Studded – Studded tires have small, lightweight metal studs built into the tread area. Like cleats on a shoe, these strong pieces of metal dig into the snow to give the tread extra traction in icy, wintery conditions.
  • Studdable – These tires are a combo of snow tires and studded ones. They are basically winter tires with holes in them where studs can be added for extra traction.

Winter Tires Provide Better Driving Performance in Freezing Temperatures

Winter tires provide some additional benefits beyond providing better traction in the snow. They’ve been shown to improve traction, braking and handling corners in all cold-weather driving conditions, according to Kelley Blue Book. The use of them may reduce your braking distances by as much as 30 percent compared with all-season tires.

The use of winter tires is common in places like Canada with longer, more extreme winters. They help prevent drivers from losing control or colliding with another vehicle. Winter tires are not only the norm but are required in some places. After a winter tire law was passed in Sweden, there were reportedly 11-14 percent fewer collisions, resulting in fewer injuries and deaths.

Consider the Cost of Two Sets of Tires

The cost of winter tires may range from $800 to over $1,000, not to mention the expense of having them professionally installed. Not paying to rotate them could reduce that cost slightly.

To determine whether having two sets of tires is worth it, estimate how long you would use them. Studdable tires in particular can be a costly and high maintenance investment. While their versatility makes them attractive to some drivers, the studs must be added with care to not damage the tires. There may be added costs of having the studs added professionally and of removing them.

How often would they need to be changed? Some states limit the use of studded tires to certain times and road conditions, which could cause you to add and remove them more than once in a season. If possible, talk to auto mechanics and drivers familiar with them to gain more insights on the relative need for them in your area.

Where Do You Live and Drive?

Whether an extra set of tires is worth it will depend on what road conditions are like, and for how long. Winter tires can be dangerous if the weather and road conditions don’t necessitate their use. Keep in mind that they perform less well in fall and spring, and poorly in summer. They also wear our more quickly in fall and spring than standard tires.

Do you have a heated garage? Are the tires intended for travel? Not every driver who lives in a harsh winter climate needs tires to match.

The bottom line is this: do a bit of homework and be realistic about whether you would make the effort to switch them out. There’s no sense in having a perfectly good set of tires in storage if they won’t be put to use.

Get Good Auto Insurance with AMIGO

The best winter tires won’t protect you if you’re not accustomed to driving in snowy conditions. As winter approaches, refresh yourself on ways to improve your driving risks, as well as to keep your car in good working order.

Whichever tires you use, make sure you and your car are fully protected during the winter months ahead. At Amigo Insurance, we are committed to finding you the best coverage at competitive rates. Get a free quote here or contact us at 773-847-9000, where our agents are ready to help.

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