Why Do We Need Winter Tires In Winter?

- Jul 06, 2018-

Many drivers change tires when winter coming in Europe, but also some thinks it is not necessary, because they use all-season tires.

First let’s check what the difference between them is. Looking at all-seasons and winter tires side-by-side shows a few visual differences, and feeling the slightly softer rubber compound of a winter tire gives some sensory experience to the difference as well. When driving the car on the icy snow road, we can feel the grip of the winter tires is significantly better than the all seasons. 

What is the advantage of winter tires in winter?

Their rubber is softer, and gets less rock-hard than a normal tire in cold weather, which means it can deform as needed. It has more sipes, which is what all those little cuts and grooves in a tire are called. Those sipes remove water from the rubber/road interface, and provide more gripping surfaces.

Winter tires have bigger tread blocks, too, which provides bigger and deeper surfaces for the tire to bite into the icy/snowy/road, and , in snowy conditions, you actually want the tire to get packed with snow, because the snow-snow friction bond is really quite good. It’s why snowmen stick together as well as they do.

Also, there are studded tires; studded tires are exciting in a sort of fetish way, but they tear up roads, are illegal many places, and in most cases, we don’t really need them unless you are in the places such as Russia.

There’s actually a lot of science behind why winter tires work, but the big thing to remember is that it’s not just hype. Your tire is the interface between the car’s power and ability and the road itself, and if the tires suck, not all the torque or traction control or 4WD or AWD is going to matter one icy bit.  

People do need winters in winter, but unfortunately, only 25 percent of snowbelt drivers fit their vehicles with winter tires, Quebec and many European countries make them compulsory. How about you? Do you think you need winters?