With the abrupt and severe onset of winter weather this year, Michelin is advising all drivers to be aware of the climate restrictions of summer tires.
The bottom line on tires and winter driving is simple and important: Summer tires are designed to be driven when the weather is warm. All-season tires can handle light-to-moderate winter conditions, but winter tires are specially designed to tackle cold weather and the challenging conditions that come with it.
“Tires are one of the least-discussed safety devices on your vehicle, so many consumers aren’t aware of just how much they contribute to keeping you safe on the road,” said Ron Margadonna, Michelin winter tire expert. “Only about 3 percent of the country’s drivers switch to winter tires during this time of year, but we want to alert drivers in colder climates that they absolutely should avoid driving on summer tires.”
Margadonna points out that tires have two important qualities that help them perform in various climates and weather conditions – the tire tread and the rubber compound. While the tread is the most visible feature of a tire, it is the rubber compound that plays the most critical role enabling the tire to better navigate winter conditions. Winter tires feature specially developed compounds that remain pliable in temperatures below freezing. All-season compounds perform adequately in moderate winter conditions, but they are not a substitute for winter tires. On the opposite side of the spectrum, summer tires feature aggressive compounds that are meant to grip best in temperatures that remain at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and above.
If consumers are not aware of the capabilities of the tires on their vehicle, they should visit a local tire dealer and have their tires inspected for safety.