Pop Quiz: My van came from the factory with all -season tires. All-season means they will work well in the snow, right?
In short, no.
“All-season” is fancy talk for, “I can drive through some light rain and not hydroplane”. All-season is an all encompassing term for tires that can handle a variety of conditions including wet roads and slight winter conditions. You have to pay attention to the ratings and specifications on the tire. Snow tires have a mountain and snow flake insignia on the tire sidewall (as seen on the right).
The fact of the matter is that if you’re not using temperature and rain/snow appropriate tires in the winter, you’re not going to be able to keep traction under emergency braking and you might crash. Here’s a video that shows the difference between all-season and winter tires on identical cars: http://www.tirerack.com/videos/index.jsp?video=23
Here are some tips to stay safe on the road with winter/snow tires:
- Keep the tires properly inflated to the manufacturers recommended air pressure. (remember to check the pressure when the tires are cold)
- Be mindful of the tread wear markers on the tires. Often winter and all terrain tires will appear to have plenty of tread left even when they have worn down past the tread wear marker.
- Make sure you use the same brand and model tires on all four wheels. Do not put them only on the drive wheels or mix and match tread patterns.
That being said, if you are looking at buying a new van in the near future and are experiencing extreme snow, take a look a the Ram ProMaster, the only delivery vehicle equipped with front wheel drive. In snowy conditions, even with snow tires, front wheel drive will edge out the competition and get you where you need to go. Click Here to see the difference between front wheel drive and rear wheel drive on a snowy road.
Stay safe out there!