Everything You Need to Know About Winter Tires

December 9th, 2022 by

A close up shows winter tires near Shorewood, IL on a silver car.

As temperatures drop and Mother Nature graces us with snow-covered streets and icicles dangling from the rooftops, you’ll want to seriously consider outfitting your vehicle with snow tires. After the initial excitement of the first snowfall wears off, reality sets in, and when you need to get to work, or anywhere else your travels take you, you’ll want to be sure that your car is ready to handle the elements. When searching for winter tires near Shorewood IL, stop by Thomas Nissan of Joliet and let our team take care of your winter driving needs. If you’re uncertain about how winter tires work and their benefits on your travels, let us help by answering some common questions about snow tires.

Can I Mix Snow Tires and All-Season Tires?

If you have a front-wheel or rear-wheel drive vehicle, it may be tempting to only buy two winter tires for your vehicle instead of four, but this isn’t recommended. Remember, winter weather can be highly unpredictable, and whether you’re navigating black ice, snowy streets, or a mixture of rain and slush, your vehicle needs to maneuver through this efficiently. Only outfitting one half of your vehicle with snow tires means that only half of your vehicle is equipped to handle winter weather, resulting in the other half of your vehicle creating an unsafe ride. This can cause fishtailing, losing vehicle control, becoming stuck in a snowbank, or more unfortunate occurrences. For the best (and safest) results, all of your tires should be swapped out with winter tires.

What Is the Difference Between Snow and All-Season Tires?

All-season tires are great for moderate climates and can be used for most of the year; however, when the weather turns, they aren’t enough to make it safely through icy and snowy roads. Winter tires are designed for maximum performance in cold environments, with a flexible rubber that won’t stiffen up, like all-season tires, when temperatures drop. They also have a deeper tread than all-season tires to reduce the build-up of snow and a distinct tread pattern to get rid of water and slush, making for a more controlled ride on dangerous winter roads.

Can I Use Winter Tires All Year?

Winter tires are made for lower temperatures, which means that having them on your car when it’s warm outside isn’t recommended. This will result in quicker wear and less fuel efficiency. Winter tires should be put on your vehicle when temperatures drop below 46 degrees consistently. Keeping them on once the weather warms up means they’ll become compromised, decreasing your vehicle’s performance and safety on the road. This is why it’s best to switch back to all-season tires once temperatures are above 46 degrees on a consistent basis.

What Are the Performance Benefits of Winter Tires?

As we mentioned earlier, winter tires are designed differently from other types of tires, with a deeper tread and unique tread design. This allows your vehicle to perform optimally, whether traveling on icy roadways or through snowy streets. Snow tires also have tiny cuts in the tread, known as sipes, to make traversing over ice-covered streets more controlled with an enhanced level of traction in these environments.

A smiling tech is shown installing a snow tire.

Should I Choose Studded or Studless Snow Tires?

Small metal studs can be found in studded snow tires to increase traction during inclement winter weather. Digging into the elements, studded tires can help your vehicle maintain its control on icy or snowy terrain; however, when you’re not traveling through bad weather, they can have a negative impact on the roadway. This makes studless tires the go-to option for winter tires. These tires rely on their tread design and depth to help them navigate treacherous roadways with precision, and they don’t affect pavement conditions like studded tires.

How Long Do Winter Tires Last?

If you only use them during the winter months and store them away during the rest of the year, you’ll be able to make your winter tires last longer. Typically, with proper use and storage, winter tires should last about four to six seasons, although this will depend on your travel habits. For those who frequently clock a lot of miles behind the wheel or engage in challenging tasks, these tires may not last as long. The same goes for the conditions you’re driving through. This is why taking good care of these investments will ensure they perform their best when they’re needed the most.

Do Winter Tires Work in the Rain?

Although winter tires are designed to handle the elements, rain isn’t their forte. Remember, their tread depth and design are ideal for picking through ice and snow, but when the streets are slippery with rain on a consistent basis, all-terrain or summer tires are designed to handle these situations better. Summer tires are perfect for the hot, humid, rainy summer months, so once temperatures start to rise, you’ll want to think about replacing your winter tires.

How Do Winter Tires Affect Fuel Efficiency?

When your car is outfitted with the proper parts, it performs better. The same goes for your tires. If your car struggles to make it through snowy or icy weather, it will take a toll on fuel economy. Winter tires make it easier to get through these elements, which in turn, improves fuel efficiency. It should be noted that failure to remove them during the summer months can vastly affect fuel efficiency, as these tires are not made for summer driving.

What Do I Do With Winter Tires in the Summer?

By now, you know that winter tires shouldn’t be used in the summer, which means properly storing them is essential to preserving their integrity. You’ll first want to make sure they’re clean, as all of the road debris from the winter months tends to build up on your tires. Then, you’ll want to place them in bags to ensure they’re protected from humidity and moisture. Tire bags can be purchased, but if you don’t have them, leaf bags also work; just make sure to get as much air out of them as possible. It’s recommended to place them in a cool, dry place, like a shed or garage, and avoid keeping them outside, as the powerful UV rays from the sun can damage them and ruin their performance.

A red car is shown from a high angle driving on a snowy path.

Is It Worth Getting Winter Tires?

When you want to ensure that you’re traveling as safely as possible during the dangerous winter months, equipping your vehicle with winter tires will add increased confidence to your travels. Winter weather can change on a dime from beautiful snow flurries to dangerous sleet in minutes, and the last thing you want to worry about is being stranded. Winter tires help you navigate these treacherous conditions effectively and provide intense performance and safety, allowing you to travel with ultimate peace of mind.

Now is the time to outfit your vehicle with winter tires, and Thomas Nissan of Joliet can help. Our service department is ready to keep you safe this winter, with an expert staff that works on all makes and models and a parts department stocked with some of the best snow tires in the business. You shouldn’t have to worry about your ride when winter weather strikes. Avoid the stress by choosing to arm your vehicle with tires that are made to conquer the elements.