Winter Tires Q&A

What is the benefit of winter tires?
— Slippin' & Slidin' Through Minnesota Winters

Berning’s Auto Repair Answer:

This is a really good question. Most new vehicles come with all-season tires that work pretty well in our climate, and the winter conditions many drivers encounter. First, let’s talk about the things that dedicated winter tires do really well, touch on all-seasons and then you should have some information to help you in your tire selection.

The first thing about winter is that it’s cold. The rubber compound used in summer and all-season tires gets a bit hard when MN temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter tires, on the other hand, stay more pliable as the thermometer drops in here in Minnesota. This means better dry road traction in the cold.

Ice and snow is the next thing drivers worry about during Minnesota winters. Extreme winter condition snow tires have a tread design that cuts into and expels deep snow for maximum traction. These tires have a mountain and snowflake icon on the sidewall of the tire.

If you live where the ice and snow are more moderate, you can still benefit from winter tires. Their tread has many small “cuts” called sipes that really help them get a grip on ice.

Now, all-season tires are a year-round compromise between high summer performance and high winter performance. They just don’t handle either extreme as well as do dedicated summer or winter tires for Minnesota driving. For example, winter tires offer 25% to 50% more traction than all-season tires. And studies have shown that all-season tires can take upwards of 40% longer to stop than winter tires. This could be enough difference to prevent getting stuck or in an accident.

So what’s best for you? Talk to us about the conditions in which you drive in Minnesota
throughout the year and how essential performance is to you. For many local vehicle owners that put a premium on handling performance, dedicated summer tires in summer and dedicated winter tires in the winter (for cold as well as ice and snow) are what they need to satisfy their performance needs. Berning’s Auto Repair will mount different tires depending on the season, and some vehicle owners will stock themselves up two sets of tires and wheels, one for summer, one for winter.

Your friendly Berning’s Auto Repair tire professional can help you decide on a great all-season tire if that is what best suits your needs. No matter which route you take, remember that quality tires are not immune to the laws of physics – so it’s key to drive safely in all Minnesota road conditions.

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