Are You Prepared for Winter Driving?


For a long time I had always dreamed of a certain type of sports car. While I love some of the offerings from Europe like Ferrari and Lamborghini, my heart is with American-made muscle. I considered many of the classics – a Shelby Mustang, a Road Runner and even an AC Cobra. But along with the expense of acquiring one of these classics, the upkeep of these outdated cars can eat away at your savings. So when it came time to finally spring for my ‘baby’, it was a newer model I sprung for. A Dodge Viper!

Michelin has a tire for nearly every application and vehicle. Thanks to research from Michelin's Road Usage Lab, most every driving condition can be handled. -

I was looking to not only take it to car shows, but to actually get out and race it. So to me, reliability was an issue along with availability of replacement parts should the need arise. The Viper is unique in this respect as it shares many of its parts with other Chrysler vehicles. This helps keep maintenance and repair costs to a minimum, leaving extra dollars to replace items that are expected to wear out, especially under the stress of performance driving.

Standard with every Viper of this generation is a set of specially-designed tires from Michelin. Dodge chose Michelin as the preferred tire for the Viper thanks to the performance and handling of their Pilot Sport line. Michelin makes these tires specifically for our cars, as they are a unique size. The rears are 13 inches across! But the proof is in the pudding, they stick like glue, wear evenly and even provide a satisfactory everyday ride (as smooth as a ride can be when your butt is 8″ off the ground). Don’t believe me?  Ride along!

This was me in 2010 running an autocross course at the Rockford Speedway in Rockford, IL. The video is shaky thanks to my janky camera setup, but the ride is smooth as silk. We compete against ourselves (and each other) for fastest time around the course. You can hear the squeal of the tires around corners, a sound we listen for to tell us that we’re pushing the car just hard enough, but not too hard to break loose.

But as you can imagine, this is not a winter-friendly car. The wide tires and enormous torque of the 475hp engine would make the Viper nothing more than an expensive sled on the ice and snow. Fortunately there are winter tire options for almost every other year-round vehicle to keep you moving in the right direction no matter the road conditions. But many people still prefer their all-season radials rather than taking the time to switch out their tires for the season. Let’s look at some of the myths surrounding winter tires and winter driving.

Michelin has a tire for nearly every application and vehicle. Thanks to research from Michelin's Road Usage Lab, most every driving condition can be handled. -

Myth #1: Snow is the biggest driving menace.

Did you know that in the winter season, 95% of road accidents are not on snowy roads? There’s more: in one study from VUFO, 57% occurred when the road wasn’t even wet.

What does matter is the temperature. Cold weather causes rubber to harden, reducing grip. Cold weather tires are specifically designed to reduce the impact of this hardening, maintaining good grip. That’s why it’s important to check that you’re using the right rubber, whatever the weather forecast is.

Michelin has a tire for nearly every application and vehicle. Thanks to research from Michelin's Road Usage Lab, most every driving condition can be handled. -

Myth #2: City driving is safer than country driving.

Not many Moms look forward to the twisting, turning roads in rural areas. But in fact, fewer accidents happen in the countryside – over two-thirds (68%) of reportable incidents in winter happen in the city!

Those well-lit, well-salted urban streets can be riskier than a mountain track. Why? Because all of that stop-start driving increases the chance of skids and shunts. More braking and more cornering means more opportunities for something to happen! Fortunately, preparing your car for winter makes a big difference. Even if your driving is limited to around town, don’t lose focus. Switching to winter tires will help your family arrive safely.

Michelin has a tire for nearly every application and vehicle. Thanks to research from Michelin's Road Usage Lab, most every driving condition can be handled. -

Myth #3: Winter tires mean snow tires.

A surprising number of drivers think winter tires only work when the white stuff is on the ground. In fact, winter conditions include cold weather freezing fog, heavy rain, black ice – the list goes on.

In winter and cold weather conditions, getting where you’re going means being able to stop. And winter-grade tires perform better under braking in all cold conditions. At under 6°C on a dry surface, a properly equipped car will take thirteen feet less distance to stop from 49 mph. Almost a whole car’s length!

Michelin has a tire for nearly every application and vehicle. Thanks to research from Michelin's Road Usage Lab, most every driving condition can be handled. -

Myth #4: It’s not worth changing tires for a short trip.

When you’ve planned a weekend away – a ski chalet? A mountain cottage? – it’s tempting to put off changing to winter rubber. After all, it takes time to change your tires, and it’s only a couple of hours’ drive to your holiday home!

But ski slopes are by definition, slopey. And a proper winter tire increases traction on hills by a staggering percentage In cold conditions, the right tires will get you up a 13% gradient and keep you safe going down again! So don’t get stuck on the hills, even if it’s a short trip.

If you’re intrigued by the difference winter tires make, check out Michelin’s Road Usage Lab. The company from Clermont-Ferrand has been gathering knowledge about how we drive for 125 years plus. They’re uncovering fresh insights about how we really use our cars today, including the surprises above. How? By watching thousands of drivers each year, in hundreds of varied driving conditions. All with one purpose: to make your driving experience as safe as it can be.

28 thoughts on “Are You Prepared for Winter Driving?

  1. Thank you for reminding me we need new tires before this winter! As someone originally from Minnesota, I can totally vouch for the fact that snow is not the only dangerous winter condition, cold and ice and sloppy slush can make for tough driving too! Very interesting myths (and an awesome car!)

  2. Its always funny to me when people say oh we have snow tires we are good, when its really the ice that can get you more than snow. Great tips though! Some I knew and some I didn’t.

  3. That was really informative – learning that being properly tired up could help us stop nearly a car’s length sooner could literally be a life saver!

  4. Luckily I live in Arizona so the weather is not as harsh as it is in some places. I do agree though, tires are very important, especially because its going to rain and snow more over the next few months around the country. I have not tried Michelin tires but I have heard excellent things about them.

  5. I despise winter driving, but my hubs is like a little kid with it. Of course tires make a huge difference & I think we stick to Michelins during the winter too.

  6. I’ve been debating winter or all-season for the tire change I’m about to get on my SUV (before winter sets in). And the Viper was an awesome choice (albeit not for winter), she’s a beauty.

  7. I live in Canada and winter tires are a must. I just bought a new sports car and got Michelin winter tires for it.

  8. My husband and I are looking into a new car ours I think will have it’s last winter it’s a Ford 2002 Windstar aka rust bucket ha ha need I say more ? I don’t think were totally ready for winter were going to try and make do until tax time. We just got new tires and had all the check ups my hubby is more in charge of the car stuff.
    great info.

  9. Thank you for reminding me about tire safety. We’re about to go on a long road trip and I need to make sure it’s all safe. The snow definitely isn’t the biggest menace as it doesn’t really snow hard here in Texas yet we have a lot of issues in the winter. Great post!

  10. I am new to the whole snow thing, in Florida we only had snow twice and it was nothing to worry about. I keep telling my husband that I am hibernating, luckily I know he knows what to do for the cars. We have Michelin on our car, put them on when we moved 3000 miles.

  11. I am SO not prepared for winter! I better get ready, though, as I live in Northeast PA! I’m crossing my fingers for a mild one this year though.

  12. I love the car! I live in Baton Rouge, La. We don’t have much snow preparation here. However, in recent past we have had some snow. Our preparations for when this happens is to Stay Home. LOL!

  13. I live in Seattle and for us, snow driving is often dangerous because of the hills and because people are completely unprepared for snow (although that is changing). About 4 years ago we had our first snow in a very long time and the city practically shut down. I had all-weather tires and chains but the chains were the wrong size and everyone was sold out. Plus my road wasn’t plowed. I was home for almost 2 weeks! Anyway, I love your article and I love the graphics!

  14. It only snows a couple times a year in our area, but it seems that at least once we get a foot or more. I vow to be prepared this year. More prepared, at least.

  15. I’m not excited about winter or driving in winter. We are going to get prepared though because I know that winter is coming whether I like it or not.

  16. Good tips to have and it’s the time of year to be getting prepared! Winter is on it’s way…and quickly. We just purchased some new tires with plenty of meat on them which sure beats the threads showing on the last set we had.

  17. Wow! I’m loving the car! I know what model I want for my next car. I agree with you about tires. I don’t think I would have made it home last winter when everybody was trying to get up a big, snowy hill near my house. Guess who was the only one to get up that hill? It’s because I had my Michelin’s. O.K. Having the steepest driveaway in northeast Ohio may have helped me out a bit. I had a lot of practice. 🙂

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