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Get ready for inclement weather: Why winter tires are important for car safety

BlogFinancingGet ready for inclement weather: Why winter tires are important for car safety
Aug 07, 2023
If you can’t afford a new set of tires outright, financing winter tires can help keep you and your passengers safe on the road during snowy weather.
How to prepare for harsh winter conditions with winter tires

If you live in a location with harsh conditions, winter tires are a worthwhile investment for your safety. Also known as snow tires, they are specifically designed to handle icy and snowy roads, which makes them better for winter than the all-season tires most vehicles have.

If you can’t afford a new set of tires outright, financing winter tires can help keep you and your passengers safe on the road during snowy weather.

Understanding different types of tires

Different tires handle different weather conditions. Let's break down your options.

All-season tires are meant to provide good grip and traction in a variety of conditions, including light snowfall. Most cars come from the factory with all-season tires. If you live in a mild climate, all-season tires might be exactly what your vehicle needs.

Summer tires are not well-suited for driving in snow or on icy roads. They are made with a special material to withstand scorching temperatures and pavement and still keep their shape.

Winter or snow tires are meant for driving in cold weather and on snow-covered roads. They're made with a different type of rubber compound that stays flexible in colder temperatures, which is key to getting traction on icy or snowy roads. Snow tires have deeper tread than all-season tires or summer tires, which helps them grip the road better in slippery conditions.

How winter tires make your vehicle safer

Winter tires are a good bet in inclement weather. They give you better traction and more control of your vehicle.

Does an all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle mean you don’t need snow tires? AWD and 4WD systems still need winter tires in snow or freezing temperatures for added traction, which can provide extra traction to help your system perform at its best and keep you safe.

A common misconception is that you only need winter tires on the drive wheels of your car. But that could make you lose traction and control when roads are slippery. Having tires meant for harsh conditions on all four wheels helps you can maintain full control of your car.

Of course, wherever you live and whatever type of tires you’re driving on, it’s important to practice good tire maintenance and perform regular tire checks for optimal safety.

Where winter tires are appropriate

When do winter tires make sense? The best way to know for sure is to consult your car owner's manual. Many manufacturers recommend these tires for vehicles driven in certain regions or during specific seasons.

Generally speaking, you should consider changing your tires in the winter if you live where temperatures dip into the low 40s or below for extended periods or if you split your time between snowy or icy conditions and a milder climate. Winter tires are designed to perform optimally in temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chains and spikes

Chains, spikes, and studs improve safety and drivability in harsh winter conditions, but they’re not the same as winter tires, nor are they a substitute.

Snow tire chains are a traction device that can be attached to your tires to provide extra grip on winter roads. Most are a series of connected metal links or cables that wrap around the tire. Tire chains are not permanently attached to your tires.

When the roads are only lightly covered with snow or ice, you probably don’t need chains. However, if the roads are heavily covered with snow or ice, chains can provide the extra traction you need. Tire chains are not made for driving at highway speed or on bare pavement.

Chains only provide extra traction on the surface of the road and don’t improve the grip of the tire itself. That’s why it’s best to use winter tires and tire chains for the best possible traction and safety if you're driving in especially harsh conditions.

Most states have laws regulating regulate when tire chains can be used. Typically, these laws require that tire chains be used only when road conditions are so icy or snow-covered that it's unsafe to drive without them.

Tire spikes are another traction device that attaches to your tires to provide extra grip and traction when roads are covered in ice or snow. They consist of metal spikes or studs that protrude from the surface of the tire.

Studded tires have built-in metal studs to provide additional gripping power. Unlike tire chains and spikes, they can’t be added or removed. Studded tires’ spikes or studs bite into the ice to provide extra grip and traction. The times of year when studded tires are allowed on the road vary by state.

Studless tires don't have metal spikes or studs. Instead, they rely on a special type of rubber compound to help improve traction. Compared to studded tires, studless tires provide better traction on snowy roads, thanks to their special rubber compound.

Should you get rims with your snow tires?

There are pros and cons to getting separate rims to go with your snow tires, rather than attaching snow tires to your current rims. You may want to consider a winter tire and rim bundle to save money.

Tires are designed to be used with specific rims made to accommodate their size and weight. Using the wrong type of rim can cause problems with your snow tires’ performance and may also void your warranty.

Snow tires shouldn’t be used year-round. If you have separate rims for your snow tires, you can simply take the rims off your car to store them – or have a technician change the wheels. It will be easier to uninstall and install a set of rims and tires, compared to only removing tires.

Road salt and harsh winter conditions result in a lot of wear and tear on rims. With separate rims, you could choose a less expensive stainless steel rim option for winter and reserve alloy rims for warmer weather.

Snap can help you get the tires you need

New tires can be a significant investment. But because they’re important for the safety of your vehicle, they can’t wait until the timing is right.

Financing winter tires may be an option for you. Instead of paying for the full cost up front, you could pay over time.

If less-than-ideal credit is keeping you from getting the tires and rims you need now, Snap Finance can help. We welcome all credit types.¹

Snap works with tire stores nationwide to provide easy lease-to-own financing for tires and rims.² Complete our easy application and get a decision in seconds. We look at more than scores from major credit bureaus to give you the best chance of approval.¹

Use our Store Locator to find a tire store near you.

The advertised service is a lease-to-own agreement provided by Snap RTO LLC. Lease-to-own financing is not available to residents of Minnesota, New Jersey and Wisconsin.

¹Not all applicants are approved. While no credit history is required, Snap obtains information from consumer reporting agencies in connection with submitted applications, and your score with those agencies may be affected.

²Some restrictions on leasable auto parts and services may apply. See merchants for restrictions. Snap lease is not available at auto related merchant locations in some states.

The content of this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as personalized legal, financial, or other advice. This article represents paid promotional material provided by or on behalf of Snap Finance, LLC, or its affiliates.