Winter Tires: Paint the Picture
If your customers don’t see the benefits of winter tires, it’s up to you to paint the picture for them and help them understand.
As a tire dealer, you’ve probably grown tired of customers, as well as friends and family, debating the merits of winter tires vs. all-season rubber. Personally, I can’t help myself when I hear these debates. I see them as opportunities to give a lecture and put matters straight. If you’re like me, you probably do the same. With that thought in mind, allow me to share with you a bit of ammunition that will help you convince your friends, family, and especially your customers to invest in a set of good winter tires.
Back to basics
Let’s begin with the basics: the differences between winter and all-season tires. There are two things that determine how well a tire will stick to the surface of the road: the type of compound and the tread design.
The compound is made up of a mixture of raw materials and chemicals. Not only are they important, but so are the manufacturing methods used. These variables determine whether the rubber will remain soft and malleable in the cold, or whether it will stiffen up and turn into a hockey puck.
How cold? Well, we all know that the magic number in the industry seems to be around 7 degrees Celsius. When the temperature drops below that point, the rubber begins to harden and lose efficiency.
Winter tires come with a tread that features more of a closed pattern design. It has the ability to remain soft, even in cold conditions, and it employs thousands of little edges for extra grip on icy surfaces.
The key here is to understand that since the rubber compound is not hardening, the tread design will still be effective in heavy snow conditions. In other words, the softness of the compound will extract the snow like a slingshot, and still stick to the ice when needed.
If you’re confused by the new all-weather tires, you’re not alone. This relative newcomer is basically a compromise. But when you consider the fact that it boasts the all-important snowflake mountain logo, is it any wonder consumers are confused about how well it will handle winter?
Don’t get me wrong. This tire offers a great compromise, but we’re asking it to perform well and to offer handling and braking abilities in both very cold and very hot temperatures. That’s not right.
Exploring the limits
During our winter defensive programs, students are pushed to the limits in deep snow, bitter cold, and treacherously icy conditions. We ask them to drive at the limit of tire adhesion and to make the proper corrections as needed.
Naturally, our vehicles are equipped with winter tires, and some participants are surprised to see the amount of grip available when cornering and braking. This, in turn, translates into a sense of confidence and safety behind the wheel.
Equipped with the right tires this winter, your friends, family and customers will avoid the kind of loss of traction that could see them involved in a collision. The right combination of compound and tread pattern makes a huge difference, especially in emergency situations. If they don’t see the full picture, it’s your job to show it to them. Help them understand the benefits of investing in a set of quality winter tires, and they’ll likely thank you in the future.