In many parts of the country, it’s getting cold and at times, snowy, which brings customers to your shop with a laundry list of vehicle service and tire questions. Mainly, many people wonder, will my tires get me through winter?
We have an answer for that in this Tire Review Continental Tire Garage Studio video.
You deal with customers on a case-by-case basis. This means that no one customer and their driving habits are alike. So, when the question, “Will my tires get me through winter?” comes up, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, the type of tire. Generally, winter tires are best in winter weather, including snow, sleet and slush because of their highly siped tread design and compounds that can withstand low temperatures. So, yes, your winter tires obviously will get you through winter. And in most cases, all-weather tires will too, as they typically carry a three-peak mountain snowflake symbol, which means they’ve been severe weather tested.
Now, the tricky part in answering this question is when the customer has all-season tires or performance tires. Here is where temperature plays a big role in the tire’s performance. Winter, all-weather, all-season and UHP tires have rubber compounds that change under various temperatures. Each differs in the pliability and durability of their rubber. Tire engineers call it the tire’s “glass transition temperature.” At some temperature, all rubber starts acting more like a marble countertop than grippy rubber that maintains friction with the road. The temperature at which the tire turns into that marble countertop surface is called the glass transition temperature.
For a race tire or tires near or in the UHP summer segments, that glass transition temperature might be 40 Fahrenheit. Summer tire tread starts becoming Formica-like somewhere just below freezing. For all-season tires, most are still pliable below zero, but some UHP all-season tires start losing grip well before that. For a winter tire, it could be 60 degrees below zero.
For the customer who lives where it regularly or occasionally snows, swapping from summer to all-season, all-weather or winter tires in, say, November is a good idea. They can always change back to summer tires in March.