How to Choose the Perfect Set of Winter / Snow Tires
The installation of winter snow tires is probably the first on anyone’s car winterization checklist. However, a lot of us are not familiar with how to choose the perfect snow tires for our cars. Of course, getting snow tires for your vehicle is not as simple as going to the tire shop and picking the first four tires that you see. Instead, there are several factors that must be considered to make sure that snow tires you will buy are the ones that you actually need.
How do I know if it is a snow tire anyway?
You can know whether a tire is built for snowy roads if the tires’ side walls are printed with a logo that shows a snow flake that is surrounded by the outline of a mountain with three peaks, with middle peak being the highest. Upon seeing this symbol, you can be sure that that particular tire is a snow tire. After this, the next criterion must be considered.
Okay, so they’re snow tires, now how do I choose among them?
Try to recall the kind of winters that your area experiences. Check if your winters are unusually wet or if there are some periods where snowfall is rare. This will give you a better idea on which tires are best suited for your car. Each kind of tire brand or design comes with its own strengths and weakness, and it is up to you to decide the one that best fits your needs – by balancing performance and cost.
For example, the Michelin X-ice Xi2 provides excellent traction on ice and snow and has low rolling resistance. However, it scores poorly on wet surfaces in some of the tests that were made on it. This means that this particular brand can offer good grip in most circumstances but not on some. In essence, Michelin X-ice Xi2 can be classified as a decent-but-far-from-perfect snow tire. But then, the strongest point of this brand is its price – at less than 0 a piece.
On the other hand, a Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60 offers extremely good traction and durability, as shown in all the tests that were done to it. Actually, these qualities make this brand is very good candidate for winter. However, the price of these tires can be quite prohibitive, as some tire dealers charge up to 300 a pop.
Putting cost into consideration does not necessarily mean that you are neglecting the safety of driving your own car. If you do not drive a lot, like if you drive for only 10 minutes to and from work and nothing else, then getting the best (and thus, most expensive) tires may not be the best idea. After all, you don’t hit a fly with a cannon ball.
Okay, I got the tires. What do I do next?
It is recommended that you have them installed by a professional mechanic. This allows your tires to be inflated and balanced properly. Having your new tires professionally installed does not only ensure that your car will be as safe to drive as possible, but also allows your tire’s treads to wear out more evenly, thus prolonging a tire’s lifetime.
Under-inflated cars can force the tire to deflect inward when driven in higher speeds, thus lessening traction as less of the tire’s surface will get into contact with the road. Over-inflation, on the other hand, causes tires to bulge and makes the tire’s center treads wear out faster than the edges. The same things happens to poorly balanced tires. A good set of winter tires should be able to survive multiple winters, and not just one.