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3 Winter Driving Myths Debunked

December 8, 2020

snow tires utica nyAt the end of his lease last January, a friend of ours subbed out his mid-size car for a smaller one. As he drove away on that snowy day, he noticed something. The car was tough to handle on our wintery Utica roads. It tended to slip and slide more than his previous vehicle.

Frustrating! Especially since he had “all season” tires.

He doesn’t drive much, working at home (as most everyone else is these days!). So he put up with it for the last few months of winter. But now he’s wondering, should he get snow tires?

Is it true that all-season tires are enough? We have some answers for him.

Winter Driving Myth #1: All Season Tires Are Good For All Seasons

It turns out they aren’t. And things get even more confusing with “all-weather” tires. In the hierarchy of tire names, all-weather are better than all-season. But even all-weather don’t work as well as single purpose, winter tires.

We checked with Garage Living on the value of snow tires and found that, “…good winter tires can improve a vehicle’s ability to stop faster in winter conditions by up to 30-40%.”

The one caution about true snow tires is that the tread is softer. That means they’ll wear out faster in warmer temperatures. So as soon as you hit the golf course in the spring, remember to switch them out for regular all-season tires.

By the way, deflating the tires in winter doesn’t work either. Yes, it seems that more tread would cover the road, but deflated tires affect your car’s handling and wear faster. Not a good idea.

And one more tire myth: you can mix winter tires with all-season tires. You might think you can get away with just two winter tires while leaving the other two regular tires on. The problem is that the treads are so different. The driving stability of your car is adversely affected. And that’s exactly what you don’t want in the icy, snowy, windy winter.

Tired of tire myths? Don’t worry, we’ve got some other myths to debunk.

Winter Driving Myth #2: Engines Need to Warm Up on a Cold Winter Day

The odds are that the older you are the more ingrained this myth is. That’s because there was a time when warming up the car was the prudent thing to do. But with today’s more efficient fuel injection systems, oil and fluids circulate more quickly.

And synthetic motor oil is less likely to thicken up in cold temps. The upshot: today’s cars can go after just 15-30 seconds after the engine has started. Yes, the car will be a little uncomfortable before the heaters kick in. But that’s why you opted for those seat warmers!

Winter Driving Myth #3: It’s a Waste of Time to Wash the Car in the Winter

As we all know during a Mohawk Valley winter, your car gets smeared and smudged with salt, sand, and dirt. Real quick.

So we think, why bother washing it? It’ll get messed up as soon as I drive home.

Thing is, salt and metal make poor bedfellows. So the recommendation is to wash your car more frequently in the winter. Say every week or ten days.

This is especially true with the use brine by Utica area municipalities. Where salt can bounce off your car, brine stays. It gets into the nooks and crannies of the vehicle and stays there. Brine makes driving safer, but is terrible on the car.

Utica’s Winter Wonderland
We love winter in New York State. Skiing, snowmobiling, and great hockey games (pre-COVID, of course) all make for a fun, exhilarating season. The one downside is the driving. It can be treacherous. So of the myths above, the most important to us is complacency on your tires.

Take the snow tire recommendation to heart and you’ll have a safer, easier time of it on the roads this winter.

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

SZW Insurance is your Utica area Trusted Choice™ independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here. In Westchester County call Zak Scalzo at 914.246.0315 or email at zaks@szwinsurance.com.