Do You Need Snow Tires? 4 Commonly Asked Questions & Answers - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Oct 25, 2019

Do You Need Snow Tires? 4 Commonly Asked Questions & Answers

As temperatures begin to drop, so does the snow and ice. From biting winds and dangerously cold weather forecasts, to increased risk of power outages, winter weather is known for bringing an onslaught of safety concerns. If you live in a snowy region or have ever driven in the snow, then you know that winter is also a difficult time of year to be on the road.

Living in a snowy region, you may even find yourself faced with an annual dilemma; to buy snow tires or not to buy snow tires. Weighing the option between the cost of tires and the advantages they can have on your driving experience, it’s common for car owners to debate whether or not they should make the leap and change their tires for the season.

If you’re on the fence about purchasing snow tires, read the following FAQs to learn more about snow tires and feel more confident in your decision-making.

Snow tires, winter tires, what’s the difference?

While commonly referred to as “snow tires,” the extra-rugged tires you have in mind are actually called, “winter tires.” That’s because they’re made for more than just snowy conditions. Winter tires help protect you in all winter conditions, including snow, ice and slush. They even help your car perform better in cold temperatures when the road may not be wet but is cold from prolonged periods of winter weather.

How are winter tires different from all season tires?

There are a number of factors that differentiate snow tires from all season tires, making them safer for driving in winter conditions.
  • Material: Perhaps the biggest difference is the material. Winter tires are made of a special rubber that is designed to stay flexible, even in below freezing temperatures, allowing the tire to continue to grip the road. Other tires cannot maintain their flexibility below freezing, meaning your car is more susceptible to sliding. 
  • Tread: Another noticeable difference can be found in the tread. Winter tires feature deeper, more aggressive treads that are also shaped in a manner that reduces snow build up.
  • Metal studs: Some tires even come studded with metal pieces in the tread that allow your car even more traction in ice and slippery conditions. Should you decide to go with studded tires, just be sure you have them switched out before warmer weather, as studs can damage the roads. Because of this, some states actually ban studded tires. Check your local legislation before investing!

How do I know if I need winter tires?

If you live in a climate where snowfall and ice are a regular occurrence, you should give serious consideration to purchasing winter tires. Winter driving conditions pose serious safety threats and having proper tires can help you stay safe and, in extreme cases, even save your life. 

What should I look for when purchasing winter tires?

When purchasing snow tires, look for a deep tread that will grip the road in even the snowiest of conditions. It’s also important to ensure you are buying the correct size tire for your vehicle. This number can be found either on the sidewall of your tire or on the inside frame of the driver side door. Fool-proof your purchasing by visiting an auto parts store and asking an associate for assistance; they work with vehicles all day and will be happy to help you find the best choice for your car.