Keep ROLLIN’ with Winter Tires: Part 2

Joe Robanske
Joe Robanske

We’re back talking winter tires with Keystone Automotive’s Joe Robanske in the second installment of our segment to keep you ROLLIN’ THROUGH WINTER.

If you haven’t ready our first part, you can view it HERE.

People seem to look at big knobby all-terrain or mud-terrain tires and immediately think that they must be good in the snow as well.  Do they make good winter tires?

The best traction on snow is snow itself.  Winter tires are constructed with lines cut into the treads called ‘sipes’.  In the winter, these sipes grab and fill up with snow, so that the snow on the tires comes in contact with the snow on the road for superior traction.  Think about winter boots, if you have a big knobby boot with nothing to hold the snow, it will act almost as a skate when you’re walking or climbing.  But if you have a boot that has a bunch of lines running through the sole that can easily pack in with snow, all of a sudden you have this buildup of snow that can easily grip the snow on the ground.

Big mud-terrain tires, regardless of the brand, are usually also constructed with a stiffer rubber.  While this helps with the overall longevity of the tire, when the temperature drops, these tires stiffen up so much that the pliability just isn’t there for proper traction on snow or ice.  The rubber in dedicated winter tires is made from considerably softer compounds and they don’t harden up until the temperatures are much, much colder.  While it may be surprising to some, you actually want to get snow packed in your tire for grip, and the  only way to get snow in the tread of tire is to have a fairly tight tread pattern with heavy siping.

Heavy Siping


What about wheels?  Is there something different a consumer would want to look for in a winter wheel, or are they basically the same as what you’d run in the summer?

Well, typically since this is going to be a second set of wheels, people like to be a little more price conscious and that’s perfectly fine.  I highly recommend alloy wheels for a winter set.  Reason being is that it keeps the weight of the wheel and tire package down which is generally better for the handling dynamic.   Some people go with steel which is fine, but I like to keep the same styling characteristics whether its winter or summer and alloy usually does a better job at that.  I like to stay away from chrome since it tends to not play as nice with the salt, gravel, sand, and other chemicals that municipalities put on the roads to treat them.

Black and satin finished wheels tend to hold up a bit better and are easier to clean.  Plus, as far as size goes, whatever you’re running normally in the summer should be what you stick to in the winter months. This is doubly true if you’re running something like a Hypertech tuner which is calibrated for a certain size setup. Along with this TPMS sensors are a must as well.


Finally, are there any additional items or services that consumers or retailers need to be aware of as winter approaches?

Simple things like ice melt, windshield scrapers, and snow brushes are must-haves.  As well as winter wiper blades, which many people may not realize are constructed differently to prevent snow and ice build-up and still allow the blade to flex and contour to the windshield.  Plus, these blades eliminate any chattering when the temperatures get low.

Winter Wiper Blades
Don’t forget to change your blades!


Didn’t read our first part–view it HERE

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