Wintery conditions cause havoc for roads in climates that see sustained cold temperatures with any significant amount of snowfall. Saying that, even a little bit of snow on a paved surface will create dangerous and challenging driving conditions.
Typically winter tires will give you far more traction over your regular weather tires and even your all seasons. All-season tires are fine for driving in wet rainy conditions but when there is any amount of snow on the ground the tread is not deep or efficient enough to gain any traction. On a flat surface your stopping distance is significantly reduced in snowy conditions with winter tires over all-season. It’s not even worth mentioning the using summer tires in snow because that is just recklessly dangerous and should never be considered. Even the slightest degree incline, like a driveway, will give you trouble in the snow with the wrong tires. You can try tricks like adding cinderblocks to your truck if you have a rear-wheel vehicle to try to gain added traction; but really, there is no substitute for having better winter tires to get you around safely in the snow.
In very heavy winter snow conditions, adding chains to your tires will increase your traction and climbing by 100 percent. They will also improving your stopping in the snow or on hard-packed ice significantly over not having tires. Even over studded tires, chains will improve you’re stopping distance by half. Typically, chains will only be used when required by local authorities such as in extreme winter conditions or in mountain areas, going up to a ski area for example.
When using chains you need to be aware of the power axel and put the chains there. The traction is obviously needed there as that is the driving force for the momentum of the vehicle. If it’s a front wheel drive vehicle for example, then the chains need to go on the front two wheels. You should be careful of any break lines, steering or suspension when putting the chains on, ensuring that the chains are securely fashioned around the wheels. With all wheel or four-wheel vehicles you need two sets of chains, chains on all the wheels, as you need even traction for all wheels that are powering the vehicle. Saying that, even on two-wheel drive vehicles, it is recommended to have two-sets of chains, all wheels with chains, so that there is no compromise of traction. Having only one set on a front-wheel drive car for example can cause the back to slide out from behind.
If you are from a warming climate and visiting a colder one during the winter season do take caution and be aware of how to approach these conditions. If you are renting a car while you are visiting a colder climate in winter then definitely get a vehicle outfitted with winter tires or have some chains that you can use if the conditions get very tough. If your vacation plans take you into a mountain area or up to a ski resort then don’t take any chance and make sure you are in a vehicle that is appropriately outfitted for the season and conditions. Having chains is never a bad idea as even the seemingly most well prepared cars can get into difficult situations in the snow and the only way out is by having that extra traction that only chains can provide. Your vacation time should be spent enjoying your time and your experience in the winter wonderland you may be visiting, not stuck frustrated as you try pushing your ill-equipped vehicle out of the snow.