Look around, and you’ll see more all-wheel drive (AWD) and 4-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles on the road — trucks, SUVs, CUVs, and more. Many of these drivers think they have all they need to blast through snowy roads. But more power is just part of the equation for driving safely  in snowy or inclement weather. The other component is traction and having the proper tires is a key factor to being safe on cold or snowy roads.

Get a grip on traction

A common myth associated with AWD and 4WD vehicles that the bigger tires are just as good on snow and ice as winter tires. Not so my friends. One of the biggest mistakes for drivers of AWD and 4WD vehicles is relying on all-season tires to use in winter weather. These bigger tires can tend to slide across the snow and ice when the driver attempts to turn or stop. A thinner faced tire can actually dig into the snow a bit better than the wider tire. Also, just because the grooves on the tires are wide and the depth of the tread is good doesn’t always mean you’ll be able to keep your traction on snowy or icy roads. The rubber compound made up in all-season tires, regardless of the size of tire, becomes very hard, almost into a rock-like compound when the temperature drops to 7 degrees Celsius.

Winter tires for your AWD or 4WD vehicle will give you the best traction when the weather turns colder. Did you notice that I called them winter tires, not snow tires? Winter is a season that affects the tires similar to how snow does. You don’t have to have snow to benefit from winter tires. Winter tires have a softer rubber compound compared to all-season tires, which is more flexible in colder weather. These tires have a different groove pattern as well to wash away the snow and slush and grip the road surface better.

Not a license to drive like it’s summer

Some drivers of AWD or 4WD vehicles think they can drive on snow and ice just like they can on dry pavement, especially with winter tires on their vehicle. Not so. AWD and 4WD only give you the power to get going. These vehicles can get you moving from deep snow or other slippery surfaces since the power is given out to all four wheels, provided their tires can properly grip the road. Once you get moving, it’s those same tires that determine if you can have the traction to keep going.

Maneuverability

Proper tires can also give you the ability to stop and steer more effectively. Since the grip is better with winter tires, you’ll be able to keep your vehicle under control during turns and while braking. Despite which tires or type of vehicle you are driving, you must also drive according to the conditions. Never forget that snow, ice and rain affect your traction, regardless of which type of tires you have on your vehicle.
So as you can see, there are huge advantages to having proper winter tires on your AWD and 4WD vehicles. My advice to all drivers; it’s now time to get a grip on winter driving.

 

Scott Marshall is Director of Training for Young Drivers of Canada and started in road safety in 1988.  He was a judge during the first 3 seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver on Discovery Network. Scott started writing columns on driving for his community paper in 2005.  Since then his columns have been printed in several publications including newspaper, magazines, and various web-sites. You can visit his own blog at http://safedriving.wordpress.com.

Scott Marshall is Director of Training for Young Drivers of Canada and started in road safety in 1988. He was a judge during the first 3 seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver on Discovery Network. Scott started writing columns on driving for his community paper in 2005. Since then his columns have been printed in several publications including newspaper, magazines, and various web-sites. You can visit his own blog at http://safedriving.wordpress.com.