If you live somewhere with serious winters, you’ve probably thought about snow tires.
However, paying a ton for something you will only use for part of the year might not feel like it’s in your budget.
Snow tires cost more than regular tires, usually. You’ve got to look at several brands to see what it would cost to get them for your car.
That’s because prices vary, depending on the tire’s dimensions. But how much should you expect to pay for snow tires?
If you’ve been paying about $150 for a regular tire, then you’d probably pay $250 for a snow tire. Larger vehicles usually have to spend more if they’d like to upgrade their tires. You might have to spend $250 per wheel to get regular tires on a truck. So, it wouldn’t be surprising if you had to spend over $350 on snow tires.
You could pay over $1,000 if you’re trying to replace all four tires at once.
Snow tires use a special type of rubber that’s more difficult to create, making it more expensive. Try to look for promotions offered by tire companies.
Some of them will give you a buy one, get one free offer once it’s getting close to winter. Another way you can minimize how much you’ve got to spend when you’re getting snow tires is by looking at used items.
Most of the time, people don’t drive on them all that much. So, snow tires usually have some useful life left after people replace them.
The moment someone drives on a tire, it loses a lot of its value. You can capitalize on this depreciation by purchasing used tires that don’t have a ton of files.
That way, they’re not going to be too worn out. But, you’ll still save quite a bit of money compared to buying them new.
Do You Need 2 or 4 Snow Tires?
Technically, you don’t have to replace all four tires at once if you’d like to get snow tires. If you were only going to replace two of them, put them on your drive axle.
Most consumer cars use front-wheel-drive, so you’d put snow tires on the front. That’s because they’ll do the best if you’ve got them on your car’s drive axle.
Placing them there lets you have more control when you’re using the accelerator.
Of course, for the best results, you should always replace all four tires. Each tire you replace will improve your car’s performance on wintry roads.
If you’re not able to afford all four, start with the two on your drive axle. Then, save up enough money to pay for replacements on the other axle.
It should be a lot easier to afford them if you’ve only got to buy them 2 at a time.
Snow Tire Benefits
Understanding the benefits of snow tires is easiest when you look at what makes them unique.
Regular tires don’t have the same type of tread that you’ll find on snow tires. They’ve got wide channels in the middle of their treads, meant to compact snow.
A well-made snow tire will collect snow in its channels to improve its traction on ice. That’s part of what makes them so much better than regular tires in the winter.
Modern snow tires have a few other benefits as well, though. Most of them use hydrophilic compounds in their rubber.
As a result, they’re able to repel water when it’s mixing with ice on the road.
Tire manufacturers even make snow tires narrower than regular ones. Making them narrower decreases the surface area touching the ground under each tire. By reducing that, they’re able to push snow away.
Regular tires tend to float on top of loose snow because they’re much wider.
Some areas let you buy snow tires that have studs embedded on their surface. These are great when it’s really cold outside.
Studs punch small holes into ice sheets covering the road. By making these holes, they’re letting you maintain traction.
You’ve got to check with the local authorities to see whether you’re able to use them in your area.
Most places let you use them during the winter, at least. But, not everywhere allows them to go on the road.
Siping is another technique that distinguishes snow tires from regular ones. Look at the tire’s surface closely to see if there are any small slits.
If so, then you’ve got a snow tire on your hands. These slits compact snow faster when you’re driving on powder.
One of the best things about snow tires is that you’re able to trust them when it’s below freezing. Since most tires use rubber, they’ll harder when it’s super cold. Driving on hard rubber doesn’t give you a lot of grip, though.
Snow tires circumvent this issue by using specialized rubber that’s cold-resistant. It doesn’t get as stiff when the temperature begins to drop, preventing traction loss.
Many snow tires also feature a special design on the edge of their sidewall. These divert snow away from the tire’s center when the weather gets wintry. As a result, you don’t have to worry about your car losing contact with the pavement.
Alternatives to Snow Tires
Snow tires are a great option if you’d like to improve your car’s traction on icy roads.
You’ve got to swap them out for your regular tires, so installing them takes a little work. You could look into other options if you’re not sure whether you’ll use them enough to be worthwhile.
We’d recommend keeping a pair of chains in the trunk of your car at all times.
If you’ve got chains, then you can convert your regular tires into something suitable for the snow in a pinch.
Just wrap the chains around your usual tires. Make sure the net holds on to them tightly, so they won’t fall off. Driving with chains on your tires can help them crack the ice that’s covering the road.
So, your car will have a much easier time regaining traction if you start sliding.
You’ve got to remember not to drive too fast if you’re using chains, though. Otherwise, you could damage your tires and the roadway. If you go too fast, the chains can come loose, creating a hazard for everyone!
Another option would be to use a set of removable studs.
These wrap around your tires, a lot like tire chains. However, they’re not as bulky and cumbersome. You can put them on your tires if it seems like there is a chance you will encounter ice.
Driving on studs should prevent you from losing traction if you’re hit with a surprise ice patch. Each of the studs can punch through a bit of the ice, causing it to crack. By cracking the ice apart, your tires will be able to regain contact with the road.
Regardless of which option you are using, don’t leave them on all year. Leaving chains and studs on your tires for too long can damage them.
Once road conditions improve, take them off to prevent excessive wear and tear.
Are Snow Tires Really Worth It?
Whether or snow tires are worth it depends on where you live. If you’re somewhere that’s got a ton of snow, you’ll probably enjoy having snow tires on your car.
You’re not going to need them if there’s not a lot of snow in your area during the winter, though. Investing in snow tires would be a waste of money if it’s only snowy a couple of days each year.
When you’ve got to drive on snowy roads several months out of the year, it’s a different story. Spending a little money to make your daily commute safer would make a ton of sense in that case.
One of the best things you can do is look at your area’s annual weather averages. See how many days each year usually have snow on the roads.
If it’s easier to measure using weeks, then snow tires would probably be a good idea.
You can also take a look at how much it would cost if you got them for your car to get an idea of the overall expense.
Knowing how much you’ve got to spend on all four tires can make your decision feel a lot easier.
When you’re looking at prices, make sure to compare several brands. You’re able to save quite a bit by spending some time looking at different brands.
Should You Get Snow Tires?
Deciding whether you should get snow tires is a personal decision. But, you can analyze some objective factors to figure out what makes the most sense in your situation.
The more you’ve got to drive in the snow, the more likely snow tires will be a worthwhile investment. Otherwise, you should be able to get by if you’ve got some chains sitting in the trunk.
Wrapping regular tires with chains can make them safe to use if you are suddenly in the snow. However, you shouldn’t use them all the time because they’ll damage your tires.
Figure out how much you’re willing to spend on a set of snow tires and look at how much it would cost to get them. If they’re within your price range, they’ll definitely make it safer to drive this winter.