You probably don’t plan on racing down the white-capped Alps in your Audi or burning rubber at the top of frigid Mount Fuji in your Toyota, but even in Libertyville, installing snow tires on your import automobile can be a hot idea for the cold weather.
We understand the allure of “all-season tires”: No shelling out the bucks for four more tires, and no seasonal wheel changes each season year.**
But a number of foreign car makers recommend snow tires in their owner’s manuals, including Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, MINI, Toyota and Volvo. And we’ve witnessed first-hand how our customers who drive European and Japanese cars can benefit from snow tires.
Here are two key reasons why:
- Winter tire treads grip ice and snow better by using raised blocks of tread that are designed to channel snow, ice, slush or water away from the tire’s surface. This design also improves “bite” in situations in which traction has been compromised by snow or slush build-up on the road surface. Plus, snow tires also feature razor-thin grooves within the tread that permit improved contact between the tires and wet road surfaces.
- Rubber compounds used for performance and all-season tires start to feel a chill at a mere 45°F by stiffening, which decreases a tire’s gripping ability. The softer compounds used in winter tires, however, allow them to remain flexible even in extremely low temperatures.
Convinced snow tires are the way to go? At Auto Lab, we can help you select a quality set of winter tires for your vehicle and your driving needs. But if you want to get a jump start on the research, we recommend:
- Buying four matching tires. Installing winter tires only on the drive wheels will result in unpredictable handling and might be dangerous.
- Considering a second set of wheels. This will save remounting the tires each season. Instead, you simply swap out the wheel/tire sets. If you purchase a set of inexpensive steel wheels for permanent winter duty, it also protects your expensive alloy wheels from the harsh, salty winter.
- Installing your snow tires around Thanksgiving and then back to all-season in late March or early April. You want to have your snow tires on the car before the first snowfall. That’s hard to predict! But as the temperature nears 45 degrees, the all-season tires grow stiffer. And in the spring, warmer temps compromise the softer rubber of the winter tires.
- Store off-season tires in a cool, dry area out of sunlight. Consider wrapping them in black plastic bags to reduce oxidation.
Are you ready to invest in winter tires for your European or Asian car? Stop in today or make an appointment, and we can help you prepare for the first snowfall of the season.
** Keep in mind that having two sets of tires isn’t doubling the expense, it’s halving the wear. You’ll have twice the number of tires but buy new ones half as often.