Winter tires are specifically designed to perform on wet, cold, snow covered and icy surfaces. Winter tires have 2-3 times the number of sipes than conventional all-season tires, providing hundreds of extra biting edges for better traction. The rubber compounds are formulated to operate in colder weather and stay more flexible in temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius. This softer compound will wear more rapidly during warmer conditions, so it is best to change back to your summer/all-season tires once the temperature warms to ensure your tires do not wear prematurely.
Old snow tires were designed to mount on the rear of rear-wheel drive vehicles to provide some extra grip in deep snow conditions. They were noisy and rough riding due to the large lugs that made up the tread pattern. Modern tire technology has come a long way since those days. Contemporary compounds and manufacturing techniques have revolutionized the way we travel on winter roads. No longer called “snow” tires, winter tires are now capable of adding an extra degree of security to your winter travels due to their ability to maintain road contact on icy conditions. It is because of this fact that winter tires should be mounted on all four wheels of your vehicle. All four wheels work together to ensure predictable handling. Therefore, all positions must have the same characteristics. If only two winter tires are used, then they must be installed on the front of the vehicle, regardless of whether the vehicle is front or rear wheel drive. This is to ensure that the tires with the best grip can be used for breaking and turning.
Winter tires are the only way to increase traction in cold, snow and ice. Some of the safety systems on your vehicle (if so equipped) will help to stabilize the control of the vehicle when they are needed. A few examples would be the traction control system and the ABS (anti-lock braking system); these systems help to get you moving (traction control) and assist you in stopping in a controlled manner (ABS).
Most vehicles are either front wheel or rear wheel drive, while some are all wheel or 4 wheel drive. No matter the configuration of the driving system on your vehicle, winter tires are the best solution to enhanced traction, stability, stopping power and peace of mind in cold and wintery conditions.