Every neighborhood has one. The guy with the monstrous SUV and a driveway covered in ice. No matter how shiny their brand new snow-blower is (they usually have a snowblower), when the white stuff starts to accumulate, they hop in their Suburban, step on the gas, and let the 4-wheel drive do the rest. The machine specifically designed to clear driveways never even gets primed — why let your hands freeze pushing that contraption around when your SUV isn’t even really stuck?
Why do you need winter tires? The fast answer is handling. Well-designed winter tires have deeper treads than summer or all-season tires. (The latter, by the way, are really three-season tires if you live in the snow belt.)
Winter tires’ deeper treads help them deal with snow and the icy precipitation that creates slush. An interesting side benefit of winter tires is that they improve traction by packing snow in those treads for better grip on snow.
Also, winter tires are designed with tiny slits in the treads (or as Bridgestone calls them “snipes”). These provide biting edges on ice that help with acceleration, deceleration, and stopping.
Winter has set in across the United States, which is something of which the people of upstate New York need no reminder.
When winter snow and ice make their annual return, websites like to give advice on how to deal with the effects on cars. Advice on everything from driving through blizzards to de-icing your car with onions can be found with a simple Google search.
Some of the advice, though, is just dumb and you’d be better off using some common sense instead of random produce.
For the first 10 or so years of my winter driving career, my cars were equipped with nothing more than a slow-working heater and, maybe, a rear defroster.
That made for some cold driving experiences and often required some extra time outside scraping the windows clear before hunkering down in the driver’s seat wearing a down coat and puffy gloves. (It’s amazing what a 10-degree snowy night will do to a car!)
In the years since, I’ve moved up in the world to the point where I now have a garage, which I believe is the most essential piece of the winter driving puzzle. Incredible inventions, those garages. I also discovered heated seats, which back in the day I would have said I would never need. Now I can never not have them.
I was reminded of all this while reading a piece on MSN called “5 Techie Features for Winter Driving.” Are these overkill, pointless gadgets or the next things we won’t be able to live without? Read on and leave your opinion!