How to pick the safest winter tires for your vehicle

How to pick the safest winter tires for your vehicle

Don’t get caught unprepared on icy roads this season. Choosing the right winter tires for your vehicle can keep you safe when road conditions turn treacherous.

1. Four winter tires are better than two

Winter is not the time to cut corners, especially when your safety is on the line.

  • While it may be tempting to only replace two of your vehicle’s tires, with modern winter tire technology this practice may leave you more vulnerable.
  • Replacing all four tires gives you better overall control and traction, and is well worth the expense.

Know your tire ratings

Not all winter tires are alike. When shopping for winter tires, you’ll want to be familiar with how they are rated to ensure you’re making the best choice. But what are the ratings, and what do they mean? There are really three you must keep in mind:

  • Load ratings: A tire’s load rating will tell you how much weight it can carry. Your winter tires should not have a lower load rating than your vehicle’s original tires.
  • Speed ratings: A high speed rating means the tire is built to withstand faster speeds and harsher conditions. Higher rated tires offer better performance.
  • Uniform Tire Quality Grading (UTQG) ratings: This rating gives you an idea of the tire’s traction, tread wear capability and ability to dissipate heat.

When you know and understand how tires are rated, you can make a smart decision about which tires suit your vehicle. If you’re still unsure, ask your regular mechanic for advice.

Be aware of winter tire disadvantages

It’s important to use winter tires in icy or snowy conditions. But it’s just as important to be aware of their disadvantages. These include:

  • Poorer handling: If you’re using winter tires, make sure you’re driving more carefully than usual.
  • Tough on asphalt: Winter tires shouldn’t be used year-round. In normal driving conditions they can be harsh on the road.
  • More wear and tear: Winter tires wear down more quickly, another reason they should not be deployed all year long.

Even with these disadvantages, the added safety of properly used snow tires means a better drive under harsh conditions. By driving cautiously and installing the right winter tires for your vehicle, you can ensure that you won’t be one of those unfortunate drivers stranded at the side of the road.


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