Winter tires are automobile tires that have been tested for use in winter driving conditions. Winter tires are used to provide improved traction and control when driving on snow and ice covered roads. Snow tires are recommended by both government and automobile safety associations to reduce the number of accidents on the road during the winter. Winter tires are sold by all tire retailers in areas where snow is likely to occur. They range in price from $35 to $150 US Dollars (USD) each. Price differences are based on the size of the tire required, brand and rubber quality.
In order to be considered a winter tire, the tire must meet specific performance based standards and maintain a traction index of 110 or more on lightly packed snow. This rating system was created in 1999, by the Rubber Manufacture Association (RMA), and it designed to assist customers when selecting a winter tire. Tires are tested by the American Society for Testing and Materials in a series of independently conducted trial. The final ratings are provided to the manufactures and are available from the tire retailers upon request.
When selecting a winter tire, you must first determine the size of your current tire rims. Winter tires can be installed on the standard rims, or specific winter rims can be purchased. Review the options and select a winter tire based on your driving habits, weather conditions in your area and your budget. Winter tires should be installed by a tire technician to ensure correct level of inflation and installation.
Don't wait until the first snowfall to install your winter tires. A good rule of thumb is to install them after five consecutive days of freezing temperatures. The first snowfall of the year usually results in a higher than average number of car accidents, due to the lack of snow tires.
Remove your snow tires in the spring when the temperature is above freezing for a minimum of three days in a row. Driving on your snow tires in warmer conditions will wear out the tread and reduce the useful life of the tires. When storing your winter tires, make sure to rinse any salt residue off first and let them dry first.
Winter tires can be stacked up to five tires high in your garage or basement. In some locations where winter tires are mandatory, tire storage firms are available to store your tires during the summer months for a flat, low fee. Winter tires are not inexpensive, but they are necessary for driving safely in the winter months. If budget is a concern, buy four cheaper winter tires rather than two better quality tires. If all four tires are not winter tires, they don't work effectively and are essentially a waste of money.