Due to the recent heavy snowfall, serious traffic congestion occurred in downtown areas such as the Seoul metropolitan area. In particular, there was a real scene where expensive imported cars, mainly equipped with summer tires, were left on the road overnight.
Experts say that if these cars had’winter tires’ for winter rather than summer, it would have made it easier to pass the snow.
However, not many people change tires every time the season changes. Rather, most people think of winter tires as’tires that you can use when it snows or not.’
What is a winter tire?
As the name suggests, it is a tire made for winter use. Unlike summer tires and four-season tires that lose their grip when the temperature drops, they show their ability on the frozen road in winter.
Winter tires are made of foam rubber with fine air bubbles, and the area that touches the road is wider than that of ordinary tires. It also contains silica that softens rubber, so it does not harden even on cold roads.
In addition, it is possible to quickly release the moisture that has penetrated while running through the snow by digging wide and deep grooves on the surface. The denser pattern than regular tires increases friction and improves grip and braking power.
Winter tires and snow tires are different?
Snow tires refer to tires in which metal pieces (Stud) are placed on the surface to increase grip. Also known as spike tires and stud tires.
The hard metal grips the road strongly, giving it a much higher grip than other tires. You can think of it as the same principle as there are protrusions on the bottom of a soccer shoe to prevent slipping.
However, the use of this piece of metal is prohibited in Korea because it can damage roads and generate dust.
In the past, winter tires were called snow tires in Korea. That is why many people still cannot distinguish between winter tires and snow tires, and consider the two to be the same.
Also, because of the name’snow’, the perception that’winter tires are used only when it snows’ seems to have spread more.
Should I use winter tires?
When the temperature drops below 7 degrees Celsius, the surface of summer tires and all-season tires hardens. In this case, the ability to grip the road decreases, the braking force decreases, and the risk of slipping accidents increases.
On the other hand, winter tires exhibit effective grip even in cold weather, so they have less risk of slipping and stop better than summer and all-season tires.
According to Hankook Tire, when stopping after running at 40 km/h on snowy roads, the braking distance for all-season tires was 37.84m, but the winter tires were half of that, 18.49m. Even in the experiment of running at 20 km/h on an ice road and stopping, the braking distance for winter tires was 14% shorter than that of all-season tires.
Similar results were obtained in an experiment conducted by BMW. When braking suddenly while running on an icy road at 50km/h, the summer tire had a braking distance of 82m, but the winter tire was 64m. The braking distance on snowy roads showed a larger difference, with summer tires of 61m and winter tires of 35.5m.
When running at 100km on the wet road of 7 degrees, the winter tire (53.8m) was also superior to the summer tire (59.2m).
As such, winter tires definitely show better performance in winter driving than summer and all-season tires. Even if it’s not necessarily snowy or icy, it’s much safer to use winter tires in cold weather.
If it’s so good, wouldn’t it be okay to use only winter tires all year round?
Most cars are equipped with all-season tires or summer tires as standard. To use winter tires, you have to purchase them at a cost. Storing replaced tires is also a headache.
That said, you shouldn’t wear winter tires all year round. Compared to conventional tires, the groove is deeper and the surface is smooth, so it wears out quickly when used in warm weather. It also increases noise and vibration, and adversely affects fuel economy.
Experts advise that winter tires should be used for about six months out of the year from October to November to March to April of the following year. Even if the rest of the period is cumbersome, it is better to replace the tires with summer and all season tires.
Fortunately, there are many services these days that store tires that were used when replacing tires.
Wouldn’t a four-wheel drive car not have to use winter tires?
When the expensive rear-wheel drive Imports were stuck due to this heavy snowfall, it was known that the four-wheel drive vehicle of a domestic parent brand ran unobstructedly on the snow road, and it was once again illuminated.
Like this, four-wheel drive shows its true value in snowy driving. Since driving power is transmitted to all wheels, and the driving power of each wheel can be adjusted according to the situation, it is inevitably better than front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive.
However, running well on the snowy road and stopping well are different areas. If the tire loses traction, no matter how much four-wheel drive it is, it cannot stop and slip.
Therefore, it is recommended to install winter tires on a four-wheel drive vehicle for safe operation in winter.