Home > Ask Gary > Should we buy snow tires or are the standard all-season or high-performance tires as good?

Should we buy snow tires or are the standard all-season or high-performance tires as good?

Toyota in snowDespite the better quality of tires, the tread life of a tire varies based on vehicle type, tire type (such as all season or high performance), driving aggressiveness, and road and weather conditions. Vehicle owners still need to replace their tires a few times or more throughout the life of the vehicle. With all of the safety measures, particularly in Toyotas and Volvos, snow or winter tires are less important as many models include all-wheel drive. Though the tires and brakes are the most important parts of the vehicle’s safety system, especially for winter driving.

Snow tires are designed to improve acceleration, braking and handling for all cold-weather conditions. With antilock brakes, stability control systems, and all-season tires, snow tires are not as necessary as they were many years ago. (If you’re over 40, you may remember as a child getting the big snow tires with chains around them!) Tires with chains are no longer allowed on the roads, so most winter tires now are studded snow and ice tires. Studded tires are allowed on the roads in Massachusetts from November 1-April 1 only.

Many vehicles are all-wheel or four-wheel drive and handle snow conditions very safely with standard all-season tires. If you have front-wheel drive, come in and visit the Jaffarian Service Department to discuss snow tires for your vehicle for your safety this winter.

Although snow tires may handle better in snow than all-season tires on your average vehicle the size of a Corolla, Prius or Camry, they are not needed unless you plan to drive in less than optimal terrain. The important thing to remember is that whatever tires you own, you need to have tires properly inflated at all times, and even more so in winter. The cold temperatures mean keeping the tires inflated at a slightly higher “psi” to better handle the roads and weather conditions. In all seasons, properly inflated tires preserve the life of the tires and also save on gas.

One of the obvious benefits to purchasing winter tires is that you extend the life of your all-weather tires, so in the long-run, you may save money or spend the same over the life of the vehicle by owning two sets of tires. As the tire technology improves, winter tires allow the vehicle to drive through snow, rather than over it, making it the safest tire for snowy roads. Where you live and the roads you drive on may warrant buying winter tires. For most of us traveling main roads and highways, plows and sanders make the roads safer. (The Blizzard of 1978 presented 27 inches of snow within a couple of days and crippled the Boston area for a week. A few years ago, a storm producing more snow was handled so well that everyone was back to work and traveling safely within one day!)

The other benefit to snow tires is that they not only have a different tread design, but they also have rubber that will stay softer in cold temperatures, a difference you’ll feel in any vehicle. While I’m not giving you a definitive answer, just the facts for you to make the decision, based on your vehicle and your budget.

If you decide to shop for new tires, here are some tips to choosing new tires:snow tire vs all season

Put safety first
Look for tires that perform for braking, handling, and resistance to hydroplaning. Many tests demonstrate that a manufacturer’s warranty doesn’t always reflect how a tire will wear. Come in to Jaffarian Service or Parts Department to confirm what tires are the best for your vehicle and your driving habits.

Read the fine print
Most tire warranties only cover damage resulting from regular use and don’t cover damage resulting from potholes or other road hazards. Ask warranty questions and get it in writing whenever possible. At Jaffarian, eligible tires come with road hazard warranty protection.

Compare “apples to apples” when price shopping

If you are shopping for tires, be sure to get the facts and that you’re comparing “apples with apples.” Ask whether the price includes mounting, balancing, and new valves, which can increase the total cost. Also, be certain that you’re not buying tires that have been sitting around for years; and that may be why they have been discounted.

Buy new tires that haven’t been around for years

Look at the sidewall of a tire for a designation beginning with DOT (for Department of Transportation). The last four digits of the designation indicate the week and year of manufacture. For example, 3313 means the tire was made during the 33rd week of 2013. Don’t purchase tires that are more than a few years old. A recent Boston TV consumer reporter shopped local tire stores and found many were selling new tires that were actually manufactured years ago and were sitting around. Though they are not used tires, they are not new either. You will not find that at Jaffarian Service and Parts Departments. We are offering a winter service package special and a discount on snow tires with coupons on our web site. We will be sure to sell you new tires that really are new!

If you have any questions about what tires you should have on your vehicle to drive safely this winter, come in and see us in either the Volvo or Toyota Service Department to give you peace of mind. With all-season tires, make sure you have a good tread and the tire pressure is maintained. We are here and available to ensure you get the answers you need.

Drive safely.

Ask Gary Jaffarian

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