Designed to provide the ultimate driving experience, performance tires are popular among those who own sports cars. With their superb handling and traction under most conditions, you’d think you could drive on performance tires all year long.
Despite their versatility, however, performance tires, sometimes known as summer tires, don’t provide the needed safety required for harsh winter conditions. Here’s why you should avoid equipping your sport or luxury car with performance tires in the winter.
The Differences Between Performance and Winter Tires
The performance tire is engineered to provide optimal handling and maneuverability, quick stops and superior traction under wet and dry conditions at high speeds. Although both performance and standard tires share similar common elements, performance tires are especially designed for top performance; hence their name. Some special features of performance tires include:
- A wide, stiff apex to increase cornering power.
- Lower-angle belts to increase steering response.
- Large tread blocks that allow for dry grip and traction and a tread cap and special rubber compound for both dry and wet traction.
- A low-profile sidewall for optimal cornering.
- A unique tread pattern that features fewer blades and aggressive blocks for optimal handling.
Commonly known as snow tires, winter tires are specially constructed for driving in the harshest winter conditions. However, the colder temperatures, not the snow or ice, are what necessitate the use of winter tires. Here are some features of winter tires that distinguish them from other types of tires:
- Specially-compounded tread rubber that keeps the tire flexible and better able to grip the road surface.
- Tread patterns specifically designed to allow snow and slush to penetrate into the tread and compact but at the same time expel water.
- Thousands of tiny biting edges that allow for greater traction on ice.
The Dangers of Using Performance Tires in the Winter
If you live in a climate where winters are long and severe, you could put your costly performance tires or even your own safety at risk if you don’t switch to winter tires when the cold weather approaches.
Even if you don’t experience a snowy or icy winter this season, the cold temperatures alone can cause summer treads to stiffen and result in chipping or cracking. A stiff tire reduces traction, and a chipped or cracked tire is a potential safety hazard. The softer treads on winter tires, in contrast, are designed to withstand cold temperatures.
Although the low-rolling resistance of summer tires enhances handling and reduces noise, it nevertheless results in longer braking distances on snowy or icy roads.
Driving on performance tires in the winter can result in cracked tires, less traction and even accidents. Preserve your valuable performance tires by switching to winter tires before the cold season arrives.