By G.R. Whale
When much of the country is getting pounded by winter storms and deep snow, our thoughts turn to tires. Some pickup truck owners have separate wardrobes for summer and winter. Nome, Alaska, and Miami residents maybe not so much.
Pickup winter wear can include anything from a fresh wax to do-it-yourself undercoating to lighter lubricating fluids to a block heater to winter diesel fuel. But does your truck's cold-weather wardrobe include winter tires?
Winter tires are designed for cold weather and associated precipitation. Tires rated for mud and snow (M+S) may not qualify as winter tires and often don't excel in either mud or snow. A winter tire's specific compound, tread design — and studs if you want them — is far more suitable and safer on cold roads and the various forms of water you might find on them.
In every road-based comparison in which I've participated, dedicated winter tires were more valuable than the number of driven wheels. However, while winter tires can improve performance, they are no substitute for common sense and can be pushed beyond their limits. They also add expense and create the issue of storage logistics.
The U.S., unlike some countries, does not mandate winter tire use, although some states and cities have laws about the use of studded tires or chains. It's worth noting that some insurance companies offer discounts for using winter tires.
Do you think winter tires should be required for new drivers or general safety, and if so, under what parameters? And if you don't believe in running dedicated winter tires, studs or chains, how do you deal with marginal winter traction? Let us know in the comments section below.
Cars.com graphic by Paul Dolan; cars.com image by Bruce Smith