Most new vehicles come equipped with all-season tires. While all-season tires provide traction in a variety of weather conditions, winter tires offer better traction in snow and ice. As a general rule, if you drive in snow at least three months a year, you should consider investing in snow tires.
With new technologies in handling and traction control, many drivers believe that certain vehicles such as those with 4WD or AWD can safely navigate snow and icy roads. However, research shows that front-wheel drive vehicles fitted with snow tires can outperform an equivalent AWD car with all-season tires under severe weather conditions. Snow tires provide the best traction on loose surfaces.
Snow tires have tread patterns that are specifically designed to dig down into the snow and ice. They are also made out of softer rubber compounds that retain their flexibility in colder weather, allowing the tire to conform to the surface of the road. All-season tires tend to get hard and brittle in freezing temperatures. As a result, snow tires keep a better grip on the roadway, ensuring that the car can stop in snow and icy conditions.
In most parts of the Southern United States, the winters are relatively mild, and a good set of all-season tires should do the trick. If you decide to invest in snow tires, remember to change them back to all-season tires as soon as the snow is gone for good. In warm weather, snow tires will wear out faster and lose their effectiveness when needed.