At this point, we’ve made our stance on winter tires clear. If you live in an area that sees freezing temperatures and lots of snow, they’re more important than all-wheel drive. But in between the swampy heat of Florida and the frozen wasteland of Wisconsin, there’s a whole lot of people who don’t know if their area gets cold enough to justify winter rubber.
A new video from YouTube channel Tyre Reviews, filmed at Finland’s Test World, should help clear that up. According to Jonathan Benson, the host of the channel, the tire industry has a “7-degree rule.” Converted to Freedom Units, this essentially means that once the average in your area dips below 44.6 degrees Fahrenheit, you should start considering winter tires or high-quality all seasons. That’s because, with dips at night and the chance of precipitation, you’re likely to encounter slippery roads that summer tires can’t handle.
The video also contains some test data that backs the rule up. Testing wet braking from about 50 mph to about 3 mph at 44 degrees, Benson found that the summer tires took over 9 feet longer to stop than the all-season tires did. At 35 degrees, the delta widened to over 20 feet. Given that the total stopping distance for the all seasons at 35 degrees was just over 89 feet, a 20-foot difference is seriously noticeable.
The winter tire they tested also bested the summer tires significantly, but not by as wide of a margin as the all seasons. We’d expect that as temperatures get lower and lower, the winter tires would pull ahead.
What’s most surprising, though, is that in both of those tests the worst performer was the aggressive Nordic tire built for tough winter conditions. Benson notes that it’s not built for dry braking at slightly above freezing temperatures as much as it’s designed for heavy snow.
That’s where the other big test comes in: a snow handling loop. Driving around the course and only slowing when it felt like the tires were losing grip, Benson was able to move much quicker with the sure-footed Nordic and winter tires than with the all seasons or summer tires. There’s also some great numbers on dry braking, so we highly recommend this video if you’re trying to determine whether winter, all-season, or summer tires are right for you.
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