Even here in the South Sound it can get snowy when those temperatures start to dip. And with big dips in temperature and a wet winter ahead it’s important to make sure you’re not caught out in the snow (figuratively, or literally).
One question that comes up a lot when consider winter preparedness in the Tacoma area is the question of tires.
Tires are where your car meets the road. Having the right pair of tires could save you time, money, and keep you out of trouble if circumstances become dire. But how much does the type of tire you have really matter?
To fully understand the answer to this question we have to look at the purpose of having different kinds of tires. Each type of tire is specially made to withstand certain weather conditions.
Types of tires
Summer tires are crafted with a unique rubber compound to grip and handle best during warmer conditions. They can handle on both wet and try roads.
Summer tires have fewer groove than winter tires, maximizing contact with the road. This leads to better tradition, breaking, and fuel economy during the drier season.
While great for the spring and summer months, the compound used to make summer tires and the few grooves mean that summer tires won’t hold up when the weather turns rainy. Once we hit 45 degrees, summer tires can become brittle, and won’t handle right in ice or snow.
If you want to optimize your ride once it’s dry, its probably best to change to summer tires during late May or early June, when most of the rain subsides for a few months.
Winter tires are designed with deeper blocks and more grooves that allows vehicles to navigate wet and icy roads with more control. These tires are made from natural rubber that can handle temperatures below 45 degrees, making them ideal for cold-weather driving and aiding in braking during made weather.
Because the natural rubber used to make winter tires is soft, it doesn’t hold up for long on dry asphalt. Winter tire also have higher rates of fuel consumptive and make for a louder ride.
If you live near the Pass or in higher altitudes, winter tires may be a good option.
Because our climate is so variable, lots of people in the Tacoma area opt for All-season tires.
All-season tires act as a hybrid between summer and winter tires, taking the best parts and (mostly) leaving the bad. Since winters tend to be on the milder side through the South Sound, All-season tires are usually a great option for staying safe on the roads while saving time on tire changes.
What to consider when choosing tires
There are several things you should take into consideration when looking at what kinds of tires to invest in.
- Location. If you live in a rural area where snow and ice may not be cleared right away, it might be with it to invest in some winter tires. If, on the other hand, you live in Tacoma proper or in a more urban area where most snow is plowed with 24 hours, all-season tires may be the better option.
- What kind of driveline does your car have: all-wheel, rear-wheel, front-wheel? Your driveline is one of the most important things to consider when looking at tire. All-wheel and front-wheel drive cars handle fairly well with all-season tires in snowy conditions. Rear-wheel drive cars, on the other hand, may not perform nearly as well without winter tires. Other features like traction control can help a car handle better in snow, too.
Every driver should also invest in a pair of chains that are the right size for your tires. Chains can help provide extra traction immediately, and can be a game-changer in snow covered passes or on hilly areas like downtown.
Whether you opt for winter or All-season tires, make sure to buy them all at the same time. Check the tread and pressure regularly, and service your tires on schedule.