Select The Right Tire For Midwinter Driving
February road conditons present the full gamut of challenges that make even experienced drivers wince--rain, sleet, ice and intermittent sunshine.
“There are countless variations of tires as their components are tweaked. It depends on each product’s intended performance,” said Jim Davis, spokesperson for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
There’s no shortage of tires and tread patterns to choose from. Davis recommends drivers select products that complement their driving styles. Weather is another major consideration.
Drivers who live in frigid regions may opt for “winter tires” designed to grip on snowy roads with rubber that remains somewhat pliable in freezing temperatures.
“All-weather” tires offer a smooth ride with treads designed to wick water away. All-weather tires have tread that tends to last longer than the soft rubber compounds found in winter tires.
Tire tread often shows “siping,” small slits that help improve traction and handling.
"Tread design dramatically influences the way your vehicle performs in different environments,” Davis said. “For instance, increasing how much rubber touches the road can help determine the level of grip the tires provide for a vehicle. Additionally, tread designs and rubber compounds can affect fuel economy.”
Davis offered the following advice for drivers looking to purchase the right tire to meet their specific environment and driving habits:
- Do you drive in the snow? Look for tires with tread design that provides good traction on snow and ice-covered roads.
- Live in a mild climate? Consider a general “all-weather” tire designed for long tread life and comfortable riding.
- Tire tread design influences fuel economy. For passenger vehicles, fuel-efficient tires can boost a vehicle's fuel economy by 5% or more.
- Drivers of high performance or sports cars should consider tires with race-inspired tread compounds and innovative tread designs, good enough to handle a day at the track.
- Whatever vehicle is being driven--from a work truck to an exotic sports car--remember the importance of proper tire pressure. Properly inflated tires will benefit the vehicle's performance, provide even wear for longer tread life, and help improve fuel efficiency.