PSA Go Buy Winter Tires Right Now!
Last year, the Midwest suffered from a snowy winter that never seemed like it was going to end. This year, that privilege has been bestowed onto the people of the Northeast.
But if you live anywhere that gets that cold white stuff, you really should go out and buy snow tires. Like right now. Even if you have 4WD. You’ll thank me later.
I recently attended FCA’s winter driving program in Montreal. While the cars and trucks were clearly not Fords, a lot of the same lessons can be transferred to your daily drive. But the main point is how much better your truck or car will perform with snow tires.
Most of the vehicles there were shod in Bridgestone Blizzak winter rubber. For comparison, they brought out a few identical model vehicles wearing four-season rubber. The differences were staggering.
The professional drivers who helped run the event, and make sure we journalists don’t stuff a car into a snowbank, told me that at 30 mph on the track in Mirabel, a car would stop four car-lengths sooner when wearing winter rubber. At 30 mph, that’s a pretty considerable difference.
For a vehicle wearing chunky off-road tires, like the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, snow performance isn’t necessarily the greatest. Autoblog reported similar results on their long-term car in Michigan on their podcast.
But once you put proper winter rubber on it, the Jeep performed flawlessly on the road. With the stability control turned as off as possible, and the vehicle in the “Snow” setting, it was difficult to upset the car.
But does changing to winter tires affect the off-road performance of a vehicle? The same vehicles that I drove on the snowy and ice-covered tarmac where also used at a nearby off-road course. The same Jeep that performed great on the road maintained its capability on the off-road course.
At no point did the vehicle or tire setup let down the drivers of these vehicles. But that doesn’t mean that the drivers didn’t let down the cars. At one point, I didn’t make it over a hill with a Ram Power Wagon because I didn’t have enough momentum.
Which brings me to a good point. Like anti-lock brakes or stability control, it is still possible to have an accident or make a mistake while driving. Snow tires make driving in the winter easier, but the organic bag of bones behind the wheel can still cause everything to go all wrong.
But even if you have a truck and four wheel drive, you can benefit tremendously by having a set of winter rubber. Four wheel drive is better in the snow than front wheel drive, but it doesn’t help you stop or steer. A good set of winter rubber makes all the difference in the world. I was a bit skeptical of the differences at first, but the results were stunning.
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cover photo [F150Forums.com]
article photos [FCA]