Mud and snow tires are specifically designed to function well in slick or slippery conditions. As you explore the various types of mud and snow tires available, you'll likely find that some of them offer benefits that appeal to you while others provide benefits that are superfluous to your driving experience. Learning more about mud and snow tires should help you choose an option that will suit your needs well.
The Benefits of Mud and Snow Tires
Mud and snow tires often have deep ridges that offer increased traction on the road. Traction makes it easier for the car to move and stop without sliding. In addition to deep ridges that offer greater control, mud and snow tires also work better in colder temperatures than high performance tires. The specific type of rubber compounds used to make these tires resists hardening at low temperatures. Unlike all-weather and high performance tires, they remain flexible in cold conditions. This allows the tire to conform to the road, giving you greater control that keeps drivers and passengers safe in slick conditions.
The name of the game is control. Some mud and snow tires are studded to offer even greater control. Metal studs that protrude slightly from the tire give drivers more control because the tires can dig into ice and snow. Although consumers can purchase studded mud and snow tires, they're most often used by professional racers. Anyone driving in extreme weather conditions, however, might benefit from this additional control. In some cases, the metal studs can be inserted and removed as needed. Studded tires are not legal everywhere. If you're considering purchasing studded tires, check with your local law enforcement first.
The Disadvantages of Mud and Snow Tires
Mud and snow tires are excellent options for driving in muddy or icy conditions. Remember, however, that they don't perform as well in warm temperatures. The soft rubber, although it resists hardening in cold conditions, wears thin rapidly in warm weather. This means that drivers need to replace their tires more often when they drive snow and mud designs during summer months.
Recognizing Mud and Snow Tires
As you browse tires online and in stores, you can recognize mud and snow designs by looking for the “M” and “S” initials. Depending on the manufacturer, the label may read “MS,” “M&S,” “M+S,” or some other variant. Although less popular, some tire manufacturers label their tires as “mud and snow.” If you see these letters on a tire, then you know that they have been specially designed to offer maximum control in icy, snowy and muddy conditions.
Choosing Mud and Snow Tires
When buying snow and mud tires, make sure that you choose the right size for your vehicle. You can usually find the tire size for your car by consulting your owner's manual. Most manufacturers and dealerships also have databases that will help you find the exact size for your vehicle.
Choosing an appropriately sized mud and snow tire is important. A tire that is even slightly too large or small might not give you the advantages that you want in cold, muddy, and slick driving conditions. The wrong size will not give you as much control over your vehicle as the right size will. Improperly sized tires often wear out sooner and can cause mechanical problems for your vehicle.
If you spend a lot of time driving in slick conditions, then you should consider the benefits that mud and snow tires offer. Although you will need to replace them with high performance or all-season tires in the summer, the improved handling and safety that they offer during winter makes the effort worth it, especially for drivers who live in extremely cold areas that receive a lot of snow and ice during winter.