We are well into January already, and most of you in the northern United States and Canada are probably quite fed up with snow by now. It has been a strange winter for sure, and more is to come. At some point, you may have found yourself wondering if your fleet vehicles should be on more weather-appropriate tires for these difficult driving conditions. Others might be second-guessing the choice to drop money on making the switch. Either way, we have compiled some expert opinions on the subject of winter-weather tires and whether or not they might be a good move for your fleet.
Things to Consider
For those of you who experience prolonged and seemingly never-ending winters, the choice to switch could be a little easier. We have turned to our Canadian friends for advice on the topic. According to the Vancouver Sun, an average of 50 percent of vehicles in British Columbia will adopt snow tires each year as the season moves in. A winter tire is typically going to get 20-25% better grip in snow & ice, which could give your company a little reassurance that drivers are better prepared for these conditions. Keep in mind, if your fleet tends to be out on the road in early-morning or evening scenarios, the need for better grip is going to increase dramatically.
Also remember that temperature should really be the main guiding factor, as winter tires are made of a softer compound better suited to colder weather. Winter tires should typically be used when you expect temperatures to fall below 44 degrees F (7 C).
Which Winter Tire is Best?
As with any type of tire, there are going to be a lot of options, so which ones should you choose? Well, it really depends on where you will be driving. Some fleets prefer a tire that is more of a hybrid between an all-weather and a snow model. This is going to fit well with climates that don't receive a lot of regular snowfall, but get that occasional spell of bad weather.
Mountainous regions, with rougher terrain, are going to require a more serious tire. Something with a more aggressive tread pattern might do the trick, but would be less optimal for low-lying regions that have slippery roads and ice. Regardless of which tire you choose, it is important to closely monitor tread wear throughout the season. Winter tires, especially on normal roads, are going to wear out much faster than their all-weather counterparts.
Whatever you choose to go with, it might be a good idea to keep these alternate tires on a separate set of wheelswith the same lug pattern. Given the usable life of this extra rubber, you will more than likely have them for at least a few seasons and making it easy to switch back and forth will save you a headache, even though there will be some added expense required.
Track Performance for Better Decisions
Adding a set of 4 will cost upward of $120 per tire, but it is important that you use information at hand to make educated decisions about such an investment. Utilize your fleet management software to set inspection reminders and record your assessment regularly. If you are trying out winter tires on just a few vehicles, tracking their performance, fuel economy, extra maintenance will important for making a good evaluation.