Driving in snow is a fact of life every winter in Northeast Wisconsin.But when the rubber hits the road, it's that rubber you need to pay attention to. "The tire quality affects everything. It affects your stopping ability, your steering ability, so if you don't have good tires the other things are not gonna be really of any importance. I'd say they're definitely number one," Auto Select Manager, Jaramey Plager says.
And when it comes to most vehicles, you've got two options-- all-season, or dedicated winter tires.
Jim Gibson, a manager at Discount Tire in Grand Chute, says the siping is the small cuts in a tire tread that help a tire grip. "Your all seasons will have siping across the face of the tread. Most of them will have at least half-tread depth. The better tires will have full tread depth siping," Gibson said.
All-season tires are more than adequate for winter driving, but they need to have sufficient tread depth. What most experts recommend if you do run all seasons in the winter is to make sure the tread depth is at least 5/32 of an inch deep. And you can check that with an upside down quarter.If you cannot see the top of Washington's head, you have 4/32 of an inch of tread or more.
Winter tires have more aggressive tread and siping. The rubber used is also different. "The compound is designed to stay more pliable in extreme cold temperatures, not just for snow, but also for the cold dry weather too," Gibson said. Above all else, though, the tires can only do so much. Sergeant Luke Newman, with the Wisconsin State Patrol, says speed is often the biggest factor in crashes he sees.
"That's a major concern, people are just going faster than they should be. They see it's a little bit of snow, they think oh, it's just a little snow, I can keep going at normal speed. But that little bit of snow packs down, turns to ice. And ice, you just can't control the vehicle on," Newman said.
Before heading out this winter, take a quick peek at your tires. Make sure you have the equipment you need to stay safe. If you do opt for winter tires, experts advise against using them year-round. The softer rubber wears out very quickly in warm weather. The best practice is to have a set for warmer months and a set for the winter, and switch them out, which actually extends the lives of both sets of tires.
Click here to see the full video and articale on Fox 11