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  • Writer's pictureCarole Chantler

Do I or don't I need snow tires?

Do I or don't I need snow tires? Below find answers to the most common questions.

Do I need snow tires?

They are important if you live in an area that has snow, ice pellets/freezing rain and temperatures below -40C. Also important if you regularly travel through snow zones or in the mountains in the cold months.

If tires are marked M+S on the sidewall is it okay to drive in snow?

Some all-season tires have an M+S ( mud and snow ) rating. They have a more aggressive tread for better traction. However, in slick conditions, they are not as good as snow tires.

But, if you want safer driving on packed snow, look for tires branded with Mountain Snowflake. This means they have been tested and certified for winter conditions

I have all-season tires so I won't need snow tires.

When you drive on snowy or icy roads, winter tires are the only ones to have for traction since they are built differently. Winter tires are made from hydrophilic rubber (water-loving). It stays softer and more pliable in winter weather.

Should I get my snow tires siped?

Most are already siped ( small patterned slits on the lugs which create extra edges for better traction). Regular travel on slick roads and custom siping is a good way to improve starting, stopping and rolling traction. However, this could be slightly more expensive.

Can I buy tire chains instead of snow tires?

If you are travelling in the mountains or on icy roads, they can be important. But they are not made for highway speeds or on bare pavement. Don't think of chains as a replacement for winter tires but as an option if you have to drive in snowy conditions.

Studded snow tires or studless?

While studless tires work well on slush and packed snow. Studded tires provide the best traction even when you are on ice.

Studless snow tires get their traction through wide, deep grooves with lots of irregular surfaces with sharp edges allowing them to grip the road after cutting through the snow.

The studs on studded tires are lightweight, small metal spikes staggered across the tread. They help break through packed snow and ice-covered roads. Please follow the laws in your area as to when these tires can be on and off.

The bottom line.

Some all-season tires may be marketed as working in summer and winter. However, this may be true in dry mild climates where seasons don't really vary.

You will only get confident traction, braking and control on snow and ice with winter tires. If you live in a place with winter weather, a tire marked with the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake for safe traction.

Since not all tires with a Mountain Snowflake have a winter compound it is still wise to ask your tire dealer what is really needed.

Drive safe.

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