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Get ready for snow season, starting with tires

Get ready for snow season, starting with tires

With the Stormtracker 13 Forecast calling for snow, experts say it is time to start thinking about snow tires. 

According to Matthew Helberg, manager of Big O Tires, snow tires have more "cuts" in the tire tread.  He said these cuts allow the tire to "bite into the ice" more effectively than non-snow tires.

Helberg explains that there are two basic types of snow tires: studded and stud-less tires.

"The benefit with going to studs is that you will not slip.  Once you put those studs into the tire they will break the ice underneath them, getting you the best traction you could possibly achieve on the ground," said Helberg.

The studs can be removed from studded tires, allowing the tire more versatility.  Helberg said there is a cost associated with removing and reapplying the studs.  He added that there are enough cuts in the studded snow tire that even when the studs are removed, it will still provide sufficient traction on the ice.

Helberg said these tires are ideal for rear-wheel drive cars.

The second variety of snow tire is a stud-less tire.  This tire is made of a soft rubber with hundreds of "cuts" that allows the tire to grab onto the ice, allowing for increased traction.  Helberg said these tires are ideal for drivers who have winter-driving experience.

"If you already have some experience in the snow, you're comfortable driving and you've been riding your all-season [tires] and you just want something with a little bit better traction when you get onto the ice, this would be a good choice for you," said Helberg.

The stud-less tire will provide drivers with a smoother driver and is quite a bit quieter than the noisy studded tires.

Helberg said the biggest mistake drivers make is assuming their brand-new mud tires will be effective on the ice.  He explained that these tires have deep tread, but do not have the smaller "cuts."

"They perform real well in the mud, but as soon as you get into that ice, there's no way for that rubber to be able to flex, so you lose your traction," Helberg said.

As for chains, they are useful if drivers are venturing into the high country, but Helberg explains that these are not a practical solution for bald or inefficient tires.

"They're extremely noisy.  If you don't get them installed right, they can come off the car and do a lot of damage to your vehicle," he said.

Helberg also said that when purchasing tires, drivers need to purchase all four tires.  He said that putting only two snow tires on either the front or back tires could cause the car to become unbalanced and spin out.

The price for each new tire can range between $90 and $200, but Helberg said the investment is worth it.

"It's a lot better to invest into something that will keep your vehicle safe on the road then it is to risk it and end up running into a ditch or, even worse, possibly injuring yourself," said Helberg.

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