(NC) Every winter we are reminded of the challenges of driving through, what often seems like, the longest season of the year. That's why it's important that your winter tires match the many challenges you are likely to face on various travelways.
“The technology of winter tires is its own distinct area of science,” explains a tire distributor's technical service rep. “The right investment will ensure a high-level rubber compound, better traction and many years of durability.”
Here are a few specific considerations when it comes to winter city driving:
BLACK ICE. Ice is no stranger to city streets, particularly when temperatures are near the freezing mark and especially near bridges. Winter tires are composed of a rubber compound that stays soft in cold weather, meaning optimal traction when ice is a risk. Studded tires in particular are especially effective on slippery, icy roads.
SNOWBANKS. Cities and towns often quickly become dotted with snowbanks, and the best winter tires offer maximum grip to reduce the risk of getting stuck. An effective tread design should feature “blocks” that are far enough apart to have deeper grooves capable of gripping snow. Ensure your winter tires feature a minimum 4 mm-deep tread.
In terms of optimal performance, some tires, such as the Nokian Hakkapeliitta products, come with the Driving Safety Indicator, a patented technology that lets you know when the tire tread is worn and needs to be changed.
CONTROL. Proper handling is key, when driving in traffic in the winter, and a quality winter tire can brake on snow and ice up to 30 to 40 per cent faster than all-season tires.
When choosing the right one, look for a tire that is narrower than your regular tires. This concentrates each tire's pressure on the road surface, cutting through snow more easily. If you face a lot of slushy conditions, find a winter tire that has maximum sipes. These are small grooves across the tread blocks that suck the water in.
GAS MILEAGE. Not all winter tires are created equal, some are built for lowest rolling resistance, saving money at the pump. An easy way to save on gas costs year-round is to ensure your tires are properly inflated, as low pressure reduces the life of your tires and your gas mileage.
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