About Winter Tires
When winter comes around, roads around the country get covered with layers of snow. And while you can still use your set of all-season tires to drive in light snowy conditions, you are not assured of a safe ride when a road is covered with a thick layer of snow. And this is where winter or snow tires come in.
Winter tires are designed to provide the required level of traction on snow and ice. They will help your vehicle brake more effectively and efficiently on snow-covered and ice-covered roads.
Winter tires are equipped with a special rubber compound, which remains pliable in freezing temperatures. The rubber compound used on all-season tires, on the other hand, will harden under such conditions, thus losing grip and traction. But with winter tires, they will remain soft even in temperatures of as low as -400C.
Winter tires also come with deeper tread depths, compared to conventional tires. These deeper treads help to enhance the tire’s traction in snow and ice. Also, it helps to minimize the build-up of snow in the tread.
Furthermore, winter tires also feature unique tread patterns. These special tread patterns help to efficiently channel water away from beneath the tire, thus reducing hydroplaning. As a result, the tire will have better contact with the surface, leading to enhance traction in slushy conditions.
Also, winter tires come with several zigzag grooves on their tread. As you may expect, most regular tires lack these additional zigzag grooves. They also feature a series of sipes, which are tiny slits on the tire’s tread. The zigzag grooves and the sipes provide additional biting edges for the tire, thus enhancing its grip in snow and ice.
These features work together to help winter tires provide adequate traction and grip in extreme wintery conditions. Simply put, they are the most efficient choice for winter weather. They supply adequate traction needed for accelerating, braking, and cornering in snow, ice and slushy conditions. So, if you live in an area that experiences extreme and prolonged winter conditions, then your vehicle should have a winter tire when this weather sets in.
The lifespan of Winter Tires
So, how long do winter tires last? Do winter tires expire? Well, how long they will last will depend on the severity of the winter conditions in your area. But with that said, let’s take a closer look at how long you can expect your winter tires to last.
Most drivers usually swap their regular tires with winter tires around November when winter comes around. They will then swap them out around the end of March, meaning the tires will have remained on the vehicle for approximately five months.
And according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, U.S drivers cover approximately 13,476 miles annually. And this translates to approximately 1,123 miles per month or 5,615 miles for the five months of winter driving. Let’s use this figure and apply it to a real-world scenario of a winter tire, and use the Michelin Pilot Alpin 5, which comes with a 30,000-mile treadwear limited warranty.
As much as you shouldn’t use a treadwear warranty as a guarantee of how long your winter tires will last, it provides a reliable reference point. Treadwear warranties that reputable tire manufacturers like Michelin offer are usually based on the tire’s construction and substantial testing data. Therefore, they can provide a reliable projection of the tire’s life.
With a 30,000-mile tread life projection and a usage rate of approximately 6,000 miles per winter season, you can expect this tire to last for approximately five to six winter seasons. If it had a mileage warranty of 40,000 miles, you can expect the tire to last for around seven to eight winter seasons.
However, it’s worth mentioning that the actual life tread life will vary from one driver to the other. It will depend on various factors like the make and model of the vehicle, road conditions, driving style, as well as tire maintenance.
But on average, you can expect to get at least five solid winter months from your set of winter tires, even if you put in more miles than the average driver did. And when you consider the safety and performance gains that winter tires deliver, purchasing a set for your vehicle for the winter months is a worthy investment.
How to Prolong the Life of Your Winter Tires
As mentioned above, how long your winter tires will last depends on various factors. And they include vehicle maintenance, driving style, and driving behavior. So, what you can you do to prolong the life of your winter tires?
First, make sure you rotate your winter tires on time. If you may have noticed, front tires tend to wear out faster, compared to rear tires. So, if you want your entire set of winter tires to last, you should rotate them consistently. If you fail to do that, you may be forced to replace the front ones earlier. And it’s always advisable to replace an entire set of tires.
Second, avoid driving in hot or warm conditions with your set of winter tires. As earlier mentioned, winter tires come with a softer rubber compound, compared to all-season or performance tires. So, if you drive them in hot or warm conditions, the heat will degrade this soft rubber compound, resulting in premature wear and tear. Generally, you shouldn’t drive with winter tires in conditions above 70C.
Wrapping It Up
Tires don’t last forever. And this is also the case with winter tires. On average, your set of winter tires will perform well for approximately five winter seasons. And if you fail to use them even for a single day, they will still expire around the five-year mark, depending on their manufacturer’s warranty.
About The Author
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding