Well I hate to say it, but winter is just around the corner here in the Northeast, and that means a cottagers mind turns to things like…well…winter tires of course! After all, if you are going to be a year round cottager, or if you just want to go to the cottage for the occasional winter weekend, you need to consider the tires on your car. There is something to be said for being able to drive to the cottage for a weekend or two in the winter, and not have to worry about becoming stranded there because of snow….although, that would be nice sometimes wouldn’t it?
Tires are what is between you and the road and the ditch or even worse, another car. Up until lately, we’ve been accustomed to the idea that all season tires were the answer, and these days the new cars coming with options like traction control, ABS braking systems, four wheel drive and all wheel drive, a lot of us think we are pretty much invincible.
But….recent studies and accident statistics are showing that we are not invincible, at least not as much as we may have thought. With the exception of ABS brakes, the options I mentioned above mostly relate to moving ahead, getting traction on slippery or snowy roads. They have less to do with holding the road, or stopping in slippery conditions. Sure, my little four wheel drive Tracker will go through most anything, but it doesn’t stop any better than my daughter’s Escort. That’s because the four wheel drive is all about traction, going forward….
Holding the road and stopping require a different kind of traction, traction that is now available through rubber compounds used in the new snow tires. If you’re like me, you think that a tire with an agressive tread is all you need, but it isn’t. You need tires that have a ‘stickiness’ under slippery road conditions. The rubber compound in today’s snow tires have that stickiness built in. For example, did you know that the temperature of your tires affects the tire’s ability to grab under icy conditions. As the temperature drops, the tire hardens, until it is more like hard plastic instead of rubber. This is especially true of all season tires that are designed to for long mileage, which people buy because of the price. These tires are necessarily ‘harder’ in order to wear longer. Snow tires, made of softer rubber, don’t last as long, but the softer rubber compounds offer the better grip on snowy icy slippery conditions.
Some North American Motor Vehicle administrations are making the use of winter snow tires mandatory during the winter months, for good reason, as drivers have fewer accidents. Even with four wheel drive, think of it this way, if your 4X4 is good in the snow with all season tires, think how great it will be with snow tires. You will be able to go where no man has gone before…..
By the way, if you are thiking of snow tires for your cottage going vehicle, make sure you install four, not just two on the drive wheels. In order to obtain the maximium traction and stopping power, you need the added grip of four tires in contact with the slippery road. Buy four wheels and tires at the same time which will make it easier to switch them over in the spring.
There ya go! Snow tires for your cottage vehicle….I want you to be safe!
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