How Winter Tires Improve Traction and Handling on Snow and Ice

Winter Tires: How They Improve Traction and Handling on Snow and Ice

Winter driving in Calgary isn't for the faint of heart. Snow-packed roads and icy conditions can turn an everyday drive into a slippery challenge. That's where winter tires come into play. But what exactly makes them so helpful for winter driving? Let’s roll into the world of winter tires and discover how they keep you safer on snowy roads.


The Science Behind Winter Tires

Winter tires aren't just regular tires with a marketing twist. They're tires specifically engineered for cold weather. When temperatures drop, the rubber in all-season and summer tires hardens, reducing grip. Winter tires, however, are made of a softer rubber that stays flexible in cold weather, allowing them to hold to the road better. This flexibility is important for maintaining traction on icy or snowy surfaces.


Tread Design: More Than Meets the Eye

The treads on winter tires are deep and come with unique patterns, quite different from summer and all-season tires. These treads create channels that help to push snow and water away from the tire, reducing the risk of hydroplaning. Additionally, winter tires have tiny grooves called sipes. These small slits provide biting edges that grip the road, improving traction on ice.


Studded or Non-Studded: Two Choices for Calgarians

Winter tires come in two main types: studded and non-studded. Studded tires, equipped with metal studs, are particularly effective on icy roads, breaking through ice layers to offer superior grip and traction. They're an excellent choice if you frequently drive in rural areas or on roads that aren’t well-paved, plowed, or salted. It’s important to note that studded tires might reduce traction in lighter snow or wet conditions.

Non-studded tires, despite lacking these studs, still provide enhanced traction on snow and ice compared to all-season tires. Non-studded winter tires may be a better choice if you live in a city like Calgary where frequent Chinooks melt the snow and create wet winter conditions.

Consider your typical driving conditions and habits when choosing between studded and non-studded tires. Also, be sure to check your local regulations on studded tires since they are restricted in some regions.


Winter Tires and Handling: Beyond Just Traction

Winter tires improve more than just traction. They enhance your car's handling, too! They respond more predictably in winter conditions, giving you better control. This improved handling can make a significant difference when making sudden turns or stops on icy roads.


At a Glance: The Top Benefits of Switching to Winter Tires

  • Superior grip in winter weather. Winter tires use a special rubber compound that stays flexible in cold temperatures, offering a better grip on snow and ice.
  • Enhanced braking performance. Thanks to deeper treads and unique tread patterns, winter tires provide improved braking performance on icy and snowy roads, significantly reducing stopping distances.
  • Reduced hydroplaning risk. The tread design on winter tires efficiently channels water and slush away from the tire, minimizing the risk of losing control due to hydroplaning.
  • Improved cornering stability. Winter tires offer better traction when you’re cornering in snowy conditions, ensuring a safer and more stable driving experience.
  • Prolonged life of regular tires. Using winter tires during the colder months extends the lifespan of your all-season or summer tires since they aren’t being worn down in conditions they’re not designed for.
  • Insurance benefits. Some insurance companies offer discounts for vehicles equipped with winter tires, recognizing their role in reducing accident risks.
  • Peace of mind. With winter tires, you can feel more confident and secure, knowing your car is better equipped to handle the challenges of Calgary’s winter roads and harsh conditions.

The Cost-Benefit Analysis

Investing in winter tires might seem like an extra expense, but it's an investment in safety. The cost of winter tires is outweighed by the benefits of reduced accident risk, potentially lower insurance premiums, and added peace of mind. Using winter tires extends the life of your all-season or summer tires since you're not using them year-round, ultimately saving you money in the long run.


Installation Timing: When to Switch Over

In Alberta, it's wise to book your tire installation before the first snowfall - typically around October or November. Remember, it’s not just about the snow; colder temperatures affect road grip, making winter tires beneficial even on clear, cold days.


Embrace Winter With the Right Tires

Navigating Alberta's snowy and icy roads goes beyond careful driving; it’s about equipping your vehicle with the right tools for the job. Winter tires are a worthy investment and a vital part of winter driving in and around Calgary. By choosing tires designed for snow and ice, you’re not just optimizing your vehicle’s performance; you’re contributing to a safer driving experience for everyone on the road.

As you consider switching to winter tires for enhanced protection, it's also important to choose the right tire shop for your needs. Discover what to look for in a tire service provider with our guide, Top 10 Factors to Consider When Selecting the Best Tire Shop Near You.

Stay Safe on Winter Roads With Mint Auto Service

Ensure your car is road-ready with a proper set of winter tires. Mint Auto Service can help you choose the best winter tires for Calgary’s roads. Let our licensed automotive technicians equip your ride for a safer winter driving experience.


Book your winter tire installation at any of our two Calgary locations:

Bowness | Westbrook | Southeast




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