You've heard it probably 300 times just this year alone. You've been hearing it for the past few years as well. When the weather turns frightfully cold, you need to have winter tires on your car. You'll protest and decry that all-seasons get the job done, or that it doesn't matter because you have four- or all-wheel-drive. The problem is that you're quite wrong. Your four-wheel motion might help get you started when it's time to move, but it won't help when it comes time to turn and stop. It's your tires that do that work, and Tire Rack has a great video showing you this in an extreme situation.
This video, which Road & Track found, is from 2009. The information presented in it is applicable today though, and it's a great lesson in just how much better grip you'll find with a proper set of winter tires.
It all unfolds in an ice rink. We said this was extreme, but it's a great place to provide today's lesson in automotive safety and responsibility.
Tire Rack uses a trio of BMW 3-series sedans to demonstrate its point. One car is shod with summer tires, another with all-seasons, and a final car with winter tires. The benefits of the winter tire setup are immediately understandable.
A Canadian safety organization compiled data on winter tires from all over the world, including Germany and their own country where winter tires are required by law in some areas, and showed that winter tires were more effective in stopping and starting—and even the type of winter tire could impact braking distance by up to 25 percent.
Some will argue that the cost of having a second set of tires just for winter use is prohibitive. I'd argue that smashing your car into a guardrail, other car, or a person crossing in a crosswalk because you were running summer or all-seasons is probably going to cost you a lot more than a good set of winters ever would.