It is important to realize that summer tyres should not be used during winter conditions. Anytime the temperature goes below the freezing point, summer tires should not be used. The rubber compound used in summer tires is optimized for warm temperatures. This means that the good properties that the tire has, will disappear in winter. It will loose its flexibility and become stiff in a way that it will not conform to the road surface.
When you try to drive with a stiff summer tire on icy surfaces, it will have almost zero grip and thus it will be dangerous. If you end up in a situation that there is snow or ice and you haven’t changed to winter tires and you are still with summer tires, do not try to drive anywhere. Try to take alternative transportation if you really need to get somewhere.
In order to have the best grip from your tire during the winter, you will need to mount a set of studded tires on your car. The studded tires have the by far best possible traction you can get. So if you need a tire for very icy and slippery conditions, the studded tire is the tire for you.
You need to check if there are any possible restrictions in your area against studded tires. There tends to be at least a time restriction, which defines in which period you can use them. So make sure you know what applies in your area before you purchase a new set of tires.
In North America there are places where you are not allowed to drive in winter if you do not have proper winter tires. You are basically prohibited to drive if you have not mounted winter tires on your vehicle. To ensure that you don’t end up in this situation, it is critical that you change to winter tires early enough.
If you choose a snow tires that is non-studded, so called studless tire, then you have the most flexibility in terms of driving and the time period where you can have these tires on your car. The studded tires tend to have some more restrictions on where you can drive and the time period. This means that you can mount the winter tires on your vehicle early enough to ensure that you are not taken by surprise by the change of weather.
Despite the fact that you are allowed to drive with winter tires even outside the real winter period, doesn’t mean that you should continue driving on them all year around. The winter tires are designed for winter conditions and when you have summer conditions, they will wear out much too quick as the rubber in the tire will be way too soft. So don’t make the mistake of leaving them on too long. Change to summer tires when you don’t expect the winter weather to return.
In the boy scouts it is all about being prepared. The slogan “Always be prepared” symbolizes that regardless of what happens, you can always manage. Part of this is that you learn to adapt and to foresee certain situations. With the approaching winter a scout would make sure that he has the correct supplies needed in case the weather changes. He would be prepared that the temperature might drop and snow might come. He would have clothes to adapt to these changing circumstances.
In the same way that scouts are always ready, the same way we should also be ready for the coming winter. We know it will come; it is just a matter of when it will arrive. So the more we prepare for it, the better we can manage when it finally arrives. We should make sure that we change the tires of our vehicle before it arrives. We should make sure that we bring with us the necessary supplies that we might need in case of an emergency. We want to ensure that we are ready for unforeseen situations as well as situations that we can predict in case of a shift of weather.
The better we prepare, the easier it will be to adjust. If we already have winter tires on the car when the snow arrives, we are prepared and we can continue to drive safely despite that the roads are cold and slippery.
If you live in an area where you are likely to have weather conditions that include snow, slush and ice, then you definitely will need to equip your truck, SUV or van with proper tires that are approved for winter conditions. As the vehicles are quite big and look like they can drive through any type of road or in weather conditions, you need to realize that the rubber compound used in SUV summer tires is different to that used in SUV winter tires. In winter tires, the rubber compound stays soft and flexible even at very low temperatures. The summer tires are optimized for warm and summery weather.
This all means that trying to drive with an SUV summer tire during winter conditions will most likely not end well. You need a tire that has been made with the correct rubber compound and that has been tested and approved for winter conditions. The winter tires will have specific tread design to ensure that they perform well on snow, slush and ice. Some even have metal studs integrated in to the tread to increase the friction especially on ice and tightly packed snow. These studded tires are the best for those conditions.
Other tire option for winter weather are the non-studded tires, also often referred to as studless tires, that use sipes and even hard crystal like additives into the tread to ensure high friction on icy surfaces. The tread pattern also ensures that snow and slush can be removed to maintain good road contact.
Time to start planning for when you will change summer tires to winter tires. Winter tires are often referred to as snow tires for historical reasons; now all winter tires will perform in winter conditions, regardless of snow, slush or ice.
The key is to have your tires changed early enough, but not too early. If your winter tires are studded, then you have probably local regulations stating the period of when you can use studded tires. That will dictate when you can earliest change to winter tires. If you have non-studded tires (studless) then you can be more flexible. The key is to plan it in a way that you will have the winter tires on your car before the weather changes, so that you have some margin, so that you are not taken by surprise.
Planning tends to be a good thing, as you will be more likely to have the tires on your car in time for winter. If you use a service station to do the change for you, then you can book a time that is suitable for you. A time when you don’t have anything else planned and before the date when you expect the first winter signs to appear. When it gets too close to that point, the service stations tend to be very busy, so you will have to wait longer to get the job done. So early planning will help you save time and hassle, and you will stay safe with your winter tires on your car waiting for the approaching winter season.
It is by no means safe to drive in winter with just any tires that are not approved for winter conditions. Tires that have been approved have a snowflake inside a mountaintop symbol on the sidewall. Tires that are not approved will not be able to perform well on winter surfaces. The rubber compound used will get too stiff and you will basically not have any grip. Do not attempt to drive if you end up in a situation where snow is covering the streets. You will most likely not get far and have an accident. In this case you just have to accept that you didn’t plan well enough ahead, and try to take some form of public transport. If you get someone to pick you up, like a friend or a taxi, make sure that they have winter approved tires on their vehicle.
Most people don’t think about it, but one of the key aspects of improving the performance of your car is to upgrade your tires. The tire is the single contact between the car and the road surface. If that contact point is not optimized, the car will not handle the way it is intended to. If you follow any type of motor racing, you know how much effort they put into the tires. Tire selection and changing tires during the race to have optimal performance tends to be decisive for any race.
There is a vast selection of tires to choose from. You have tires for different types of vehicles and different types of weather and surface conditions. Choosing the right tire for the right circumstances will drastically improve the performance of your vehicle, regardless if it is a combustion car, hybrid, electric, truck or SUV. There are tires for every vehicle and usually a good assortment to choose from.
You need to select either a good compromise that will serve you all year round whatever weather challenges you will face, or then you can change two times per year according to season. Changing tires two times a year is the norm if you have winter seasons where you live. It is impossible to find a tire that is good both for hot summers as well as cold winters. If your seasons are not so extreme, so you don’t have too warm summers and not too cold winters, you have the option to choose an all weather tires that is approved for winter use, but can handle the full spectrum.
To be able to optimize the performance during the whole year, you will need to have a good quality summer tire set and a good quality winter tire set. The summer tires will excel on dry summer roads, where they will give you the optimal performance. If you have a sports car, you need to have tires to match it. When it comes to winter tires, the same: the tires are optimized so that you can drive safely and maneuver through the winter conditions. So choose tires accordingly.
The main reason to change to winter tires is always safety. It is very dangerous to drive a car with summer tires during winter conditions. A summer tire will get very stiff when the temperatures go below the freezing point. Most countries and states have thus made it illegal to drive without approved winter tires in winter. This is to ensure that people take this seriously and in fact change their tires.
The rubber compound in a summer tire is designed to be soft during summer temperatures, to provide excellent grip and feel when you drive in summer conditions. This optimization for summer conditions makes them very bad for winter conditions, as they will be very stiff and will thus not be able to conform to the winter surfaces. Winter tires have a completely different rubber compound that is designed to stay soft and flexible even at very low temperatures to ensure that you have the grip needed during these extreme conditions.
Also the tread design is different for winter tires, that are designed for optimal handling on slush, ice and snow. Winter tires’ grooves are designed to push away slush, to ensure that you don’t loose contact with the road surface. They also have the ability to increase friction on snow, so that you have better traction. The tread design will also be impacted by if you have studded tires, as they will have metal studs integrated into the tread. These metal studs will be able to create superb traction on ice, so that you can decrease braking distance, keep traction through corners and turns and be able to accelerate from standstill.
The studless aka non-studded tires use tread design and rubber compound to ensure good grip. On ice they use sipes that act like small suction cups that create grip on slippery ice. On snow the tread design and rubber compound make them have good traction, as good as studded tires. So the main reason for changing tires is safety. You have quite many options to change to, so make your choice based on what is most appropriate to the weather conditions that are present in your area.
When winter arrives it is good to make sure that your SUV will be ready for the change of weather. One obvious step is to make sure that you have good tires to cope with the winter weather. If you are expecting a real winter, then you need to change to real winter tires. Winter tires, or snow tires that they are sometimes referred to, have a snowflake symbol on them, to indicate that they have been tested and approved for driving in winter conditions. You will have either studded tires or non-studded aka studless tires. The choice depends a lot of the weather and driving conditions in the area where you live or where you will drive. The SUV studded tires will be superior when it comes to traction, especially on ice. So if you live in an coastal area where you tend to have a lot of ice covering the streets, then I would recommend going for a studded tire. If you live in a more snow-covered area, then you will be ok with a non-studded tire.
Both options will be good and will keep you safe on the roads, especially if you select a high quality tire. I would recommend choosing tires from Nokian Tyres, as they are from an area with proper winters and have the world’s northernmost testing facility to ensure that they can continuously test and improve the tires that they manufacture and sell. They make world-class studded and non-studded tires, that perform well in all winter conditions and ensure that you can stay safe while driving in the most extreme conditions.
I always recommend having an emergency kit with you. There are some basic things for everyday driving and then some items that you should bring with you if you go on a longer trip, especially in isolated areas.
Some of the items that you should have for normal winter driving: -Ice scraper
-Sand that can be used to get out of icy spots
If you go on longer trips, you might consider adding: -Power bank, to be able to charge your phone
-Blanket, warm jacket, proper winter boots, winter hat
Of course you need your everyday safety items: -First Aid kit
If you follow the above steps, you should be safe and ready for winter. Just remember to change to winter tires before winter hits.