How Do Snow Tires Work?

snow tires

When winter’s worst road conditions strike, snow tires could be a lifesaver. But why?

The key to snow tires’ effectiveness starts with their tread. Snow tires have a very deep tread pattern that allows them to pack snow in while they’re moving without slipping. The deeper a tire's tread, the more able it is to safely pack in snow.

The tire’s pattern is also an essential component when it comes to grip. Engineered slits in the tire’s pattern known as sipes open themselves as the tire roles over snow. The more sipes a tire has, the more capable it is in poor weather conditions.

The final key to snow tires’ effectiveness is their compound, which are the components within the rubber formula. A good snow tire will have a compound that remains flexible even at the lowest of temperatures, which helps ensure optimal performance.

“Snow tires are really winter tires because they are designed to operate in conditions below 40̊ F,” says Kevin Rohlwing, senior vice president of training at the Tire Industry Association. “We did some testing, and the stopping advantage between winter tires and all-season tires on packed snow was minimal. But the difference on ice was significant. It’s not just the tread design that provides improved traction, but also the rubber compounding.”

Tread depth, pattern and tire compound are three things you’ll want to consider if your car needs snow tires. Not sure if your car needs them? Then read on to find out which cars need snow tires.

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