Expert Advice: Do We Really Need Snow Tires?

By Nancy Dunham

So as a conscientious driver, you want to take good care of your car and in cold climates that means snow tires, right?

Wrong say auto experts. All season tires have almost replaced the snow tires that were popular a few decades ago.

Auto experts suggest that when buying tires make sure that they are appropriate for the winter. Tires approved for winter use have snowflakes imprinted on the side. But don’t stop there.

"Just because there is a snow flake doesn’t mean it will be the best one for you," said Automotive Repair Specialist Jeffrey Boone of the Towson Office of AAA Mid-Atlantic, headquartered in Wilmington. "People need to be aware that the tires [have good tread] and aren’t low profile tires."

Specifically performance cars such as Corvettes and Firebirds have tires that are not appropriate for snow. Those owners should buy a set of tires specifically for winter use. They can determine which ones are best just by speaking with the dealer or reading their owners’ manuals.

But even those with standard vehicles need to pay attention to tread and tire pressure. While tire tread is often the main car care maintenance topic as temperatures dip, tire pressure is also a major cause of tire wear and blowouts. Every time the temperature drops 10 degree Fahrenheit, the air pressure inside a car’s tire goes down one or two pounds per square inch.

Here are some of the maintenance, safety, and emergency preparedness strategies recommended by Boone and Kriston:



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