Making an Investment in Safety with Winter Tires

3 Making an investment in safety with winter tires

Fall is settling into Michigan, and nowhere is it more beautiful than here in Macomb County. Even if the leaves haven’t quite hit their full color yet, the weather is just right for a trip to the cider mill or even a longer drive out to the Renaissance Festival. There’s so much to enjoy this time of year! 

While you’re planning that Color Tour, you might want to give some thought to preparing your vehicle for winter. If you’re going to drive through Michigan weather you need to shore up your first line of defense- the tires.

A lot of drivers who don’t leave the city keep all-season tires on their car year-round, but with the amount of snow and ice we get snow tires are a serious investment in safety. The danger of all-season tires in snow is that their shallower treads can get clogged with ice, giving them a smooth surface that can’t grip the ground well.

Despite their name, snow tires aren’t only useful in snow. Their name comes from their original purpose of riding on deep snow. The most visible difference between all-season and snow tires is the tread: snow tires have deep tread patterns designed to minimize snow packing. Slits in the pattern called “siping” put more edges in contact with the road to improve traction. Snow tires are also made of specialized silica-based rubber compounds that stay flexible in extreme cold, while most tire rubber begins to harden past the point of efficiency at around 45 decrees. These features combine to give cars with snow tires 25-50% more traction on snow and ice than those using all-season tires.

Modern snow tires are very little like the less-versatile early models (which is why they’re sometimes called winter tires). There are styles designed for deep snow and ice, but in our area of Michigan a solid set of performance snow tires is enough for most people’s needs. The tires perform fine in warmer weather but wear out faster because of their softer rubber, so wait until the temperatures fall below 45 degrees to switch from your regular tires. Leave them on from 4-6 months or until the temperatures regularly rise past 45 degrees again.

A few more tips for choosing winter tires:

  • Always use a full set of four snow tires. Buying tires just for the drive wheels of your Chevy means your car can’t react consistently to road conditions. The snow tires will grip where the others slide. At the very least it adds a level of difficulty to your driving, at worst you could have a loss of control in an emergency braking situation.
  • Consider purchasing separate rims for your snow tires. This is a bigger initial outlay but saves money and effort when changing from your tires. Having your own rims also gives you the option of installing your snow tires yourself at your own convenience rather than trying to plan when to visit the service center.
  • Buy your snow tires early to get the best value. After the first big winter storm, when drivers remember how uncertain all-season tires can be on icy roads, stocks of winter tires may be low. That means prices are high. Even if the weather isn’t bad where you live, storms farther north in the state will affect tire prices everywhere.

Your tires are your first and only contact with the road. Make sure you’re giving yourself the tools you need to drive safely this winter. Let us help you find the perfect tires for your favorite Chevy vehicle.

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