6802 Peters Creek Road
Roanoke, VA 24019

Everything You Need To Know About Winter Tires

December 5th, 2015
A generation ago, your dad or grandpa might have had a heavy, noisy set of “snow tires” or “mud grips” on the back of his woodgrain Ford station wagon. Cars have come a long, long way since then, and so has tire technology. Today’s winter tires rival all-season tires or grand touring tires in terms of road manners, but they’re still purpose-built and designed specifically for winter conditions. Are winter tires a necessity in Roanoke, VA? Star City Tire would like to break that down a little bit 
Q: How are winter tires different from all-season tires? 
A: All-season tires are designed for adequate performance in a wide range of weather conditions. “Adequate,” however, means “not really good enough” when it comes to winter driving. The rubber in all-season tires tends to stiffen up and harden at really cold temperatures, compromising traction. Winter tires are designed with a tread compound that stays flexible when temperatures are well below freezing, and feature a tread pattern that is more aggressive, with deeper tread grooves. They also usually include sipes, a network of tiny hair-thin slits distributed across the tread surface. Sipes offer hundreds more biting edges to help tires dig in on snow, slush and ice. 
Q: I know that some tires are designed to use studs. Are studs really worth it? 
A: On glare ice, there’s no tire that really performs well…but studded tires can at least give you a fighting chance when negotiating icy conditions. Think about the difference you’d feel if you were walking on ice with boots that had metal studs embedded into the soles. Studs can definitely be a help on ice or in deep snow, but…they’re noisy on dry pavement and can be damaging to asphalt. Unlike many states, though, studded tires are legal in Virginia, from October 15 through April 15. 
Q: When should I change my snow tires?
A: The guideline from most manufacturers is to change to winter tires when average temperatures are about 40 degrees, then change back to summer or all-season tires when temperatures average above 40. The softer tread compound of winter tires will wear quickly in warmer temperatures, and when you really need traction in winter conditions, tread depth is a very important factor. 
Q: How do winter tires ride and handle on dry pavement? 
A: The best winter tires offer road manners, noise levels, ride quality and handling that rival grand touring or all-season tires. That’s not across-the-board for all winter tires, though; there can be quite a bit of variation from one make and model to the next. It’s recommended that you check tire reviews carefully and do your homework before buying any set of tires. 
Q: Do I need winter wheels with my winter tires? 
A: If you’ve got an expensive set of alloy rims, it might be a good idea to switch to a set of steel wheels for winter conditions. Salt and road chemicals can be pretty hard on aluminum or alloy, and you won’t want to deal with having your pricey alloy rims resurfaced after they’ve been corroded from winter driving. 
Winters in Roanoke, VA can be pretty tough, as you know. For many, that means just trying to avoid driving whenever possible, but many of us don’t have that option (especially those who live in outlying areas). Winter tires can be a good investment to help get you through until spring. If you’re looking for winter tires in Roanoke, VA, come to Star City Tire…one of our service advisors can get you the set of winter tires you need for your vehicle, regardless of what you’re driving! 
  Posted in: Tires 101