Mud Tires & Snow: What You Need To Know

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From the lift kits to the wiper fluid, you’ve made sure that virtually every part of your vehicle is ready for winter and the harsh, frigid weather it can bring. What about the tires? Since you go off-roading during the rest of the year, you already have mud tires on your vehicle. Isn’t that enough? If they provide the traction you need on mud, surely they should work as well on snow, shouldn’t they? Do you really need to swap the mud tires for winter tires?

The short answer is yes. While mud and snow can each affect your vehicle’s traction, they are different enough that a tire designed to perform well on mud could lead to a disaster on ice.

Why Don’t Mud Tires Function Well on Snow?

A mud tire is made out of a soft rubber compound. This makes it pliable under extreme angles of entry and departure and good for performance on a dry road. However, the soft compound isn’t resistant to changes in temperature. When it gets cold out, the rubber in the tires becomes hardened. As a result, performance deteriorates severely.

The wide tread blocks of the mud tire are designed so that the semi-liquid mud flows through the channels. The motion of the wheel as it revolves throws off the mud, cleaning the tires in the process. However, snow is more solid than mud, so instead of flowing through the channels, it gets compacted into them. When the channels get packed with snow, it reduces the traction. If you then hit an icy patch, even your Fox suspension may not be enough to save you from losing control of your vehicle.

Siping is very small cuts made in the tire treads at 90-degrees angles to help the vehicle grip the road better. Mud tires do not have any siping, so that also negatively affects their performance on snow.

How Can You Tell Which Tires Work on Snow?

There are a bewildering array of tires available, but how do you know which ones will improve your performance on snow and ice? There is an international symbol that appears on the sidewalls of tires that have been designed to stand up to winter conditions. It looks like a snowflake that is inside a mountain with three peaks. This lets you know at a glance that when the temperature drops below 45 degrees, these tires retain their flexibility. Whether you are able to maintain traction when driving on snow and ice depends on many factors, including how you drive, but these tires are better equipped to grip a surface slippery from ice and snow than mud tires are.

What Else Can You Do To Improve Traction?

When conditions call for it, you can also improve your tire’s traction by adding chains. You can’t have chains on your vehicle at all times, only when there is a sufficient layer of snow on the road. Nevertheless, if you have chains available to put on as needed, you can keep mud tires on your vehicle year-round.

For safety’s sake, you should have tires for trucks that are appropriate to the seasons and the current conditions. Find winter tires or accessories like chains from an online retailer.

Article by Born Realist