There is a tendency to think that winter tires They are specifically designed to ride in extreme snow conditions. However, they are really tires for driving in the cold, as their performance is better than any other type of footwear on any surface whose temperature is close to zero degrees Celsius, a figure that is easily found in peninsular winters.
Eye. Don’t confuse winter tires with those dedicated to studded snow. The former do not have the metal studs protruding from the tread, which provide traction in icy conditions. They are made of specialized rubber compounds with particular tread patterns that provide a Better traction in more types of cold weather conditions. Think about the countries of Northern Europe. In them, drivers drive with these tires without having to worry about whether they will get stuck.
What makes winter tires special?
There are several factors that differentiate neu
Tread Materials and Design
The rubber used in winter tires needs cold temperatures to perform at its best. Most manufacturers use silica in the compound because it helps the rubber remain flexible (rather than hardening) when temperatures drop. below 7 °C.
Likewise, the tread design has deep grooves for better traction on snow. The pattern has more sipes, which are usually wider and more numerous than on all-season and summer tires.
Low temperature resistance
The main characteristic that defines winter tires is their ability to resist low temperatures. Due to its design, the rubber of a tire tends to harden, thus losing its grip properties. If they are subjected to very low temperatures and intense use, they may crack and part of their tread may even disappear.
However, in winter tires, the rubber mixture they use makes the rubber be much more flexibleallowing them to resist more and maintain their properties at low temperatures.
Grip and handling in snow
In addition to the compound, what makes these tires work well on snow or ice is the large number of grooves or microgrooves they have in the tread. In the case of some tires, they can be up to 2,500 microgrooves.
The way they work is simple: some impact on others, stimulating them to open and break up the snow, thus achieving better grip when facing really slippery surfaces. In this case, remember to start in the highest possible gear ratio and play with the clutch.
Shorter braking distance
Tires marked for winter resist deformation better thanks to the crowns and shoulder blocks. This results in improved braking forces and better grip, thus reducing the distance to stop.
A winter tire manages to reduce the braking distance in fact by up to 5 meters on a wet surface at speeds between 90 and 120 km/h, and up to 11 m on snowy surfaces at 30 km/h compared to summer tires. Of course, when the depth of the drawing is less than 4 mm, they must be changed.
Resistance to aquaplaning
In these tires, the grooves and grooves They are hydrodynamic, that is, they are deeper and are specially designed to promote the evacuation of water. This allows for improved traction even in melting snow. It must be taken into account that, if there is a small amount of water or snow on the asphalt, the tires will be able to dislodge it and there will be no problems. Where you have to be more attentive is to those ponds and plaques that form on the road, and the speed at which you are traveling, because the faster you go, the less time there is to evacuate.
Are winter tires the only alternative for the cold?
Last but not least, say that In Spain we are used to “mild” winters in most of the peninsula. This means that winter tires are not the only ones suitable for driving in cold and snowy conditions. All-season tires, although they are not considered purely winter tires, are developed to offer good performance in low temperatures, given that they have the pictogram of the three-peaked mountain with a snowflake that qualifies them for this purpose. .
In short, we can say that winter tires are those that offer optimal performance below 7 °C. Likewise, they are prepared to provide better traction, grip, braking, maneuverability and resistance to aquaplaning. They are all marked with the M+S name (Mud and Snow; mud and snow) and with the pictogram of a three peaked mountainwith a snowflake inside. And if you are not a regular in areas where a lot of snow falls, a set of all-season tires can be a great alternative.