Many people wonder, what makes snow tires so effective? Is it the materials used in their manufacture or the grippy tread? As a driver, you must have heard the message repeatedly; your car should have winter or snow tires in winter. That is because snow tires are specially designed with a tread pattern that can handle the nasty weather.
They function better sticking to the asphalt when the temperatures drop hence improving acceleration, braking distance, and handling. But the question is, how exactly do snow tires handle that? Here is everything you need to understand before heading to the snow tire shop.
They are made of rubber compounds.
Although it is easier to notice the unique treads in snow tires, the most crucial part is that they are manufactured with rubber compounds designed to remain soft even in freezing winter temperatures. It is also combined with other ingredients known as the compound, including natural or synthetic rubber, carbon black, silica, and oil.
The principle behind this is that plain rubber cannot be functional alone because it gets too hard in cold temperatures and too soft when it gets hot. Therefore tires use different blends of rubber depending on the type. In snow tires, the rubber blend is unique to lower the glass transition temperature, which is critical for the tread rubber to be flexible during winter.
Theyfeature shallower treads for paddling through deep snow.
Another major aspect that makes snow winters work is the tread. The tread is designed with several small blocks on snow tires, giving them sharp edges, enabling them to bite into the snow. The shallow treads with closely spaced grooves are meant to carry away the water film formed when the tires press down on snow or ice, enabling them to stay in contact with the road.
Otherwise, the tires can hydroplane, a precarious situation whereby the tire pushes the water ahead and moves on top of it, causing a vehicle to slide. The treads in snow tires also have tiny slits called sipes. They open up when they get into contact with the road providing a more gripping surface.
They are designed to move water.
Another great element of snow tires that makes them function so well is that they are designed to move water. Whenever snow tires press down on ice or snow, they melt the upper layer creating a thin layer of water, just like what happens when a skate glides through a rink. The grooves move the water away to the side, enabling the tires to maintain contact with the road.
They are narrower than summer models.
Snow tires should be narrower than summer models. For instance, if your car came with 215mm wide summer tires, experts suggest you go down one or two sizes when installing snow tires, such as 205mm. The reduced width increases the pressure the tires exert on the surface beneath them, eliminating the risks of hydroplaning.
The bottom line
When buying snow winters, you pay for the advanced technology, better compounds, and advanced tread engineering, which increases their quality and price. Note that their condition is of utmost importance when using them.