Winter Driving

Lots of grip equals little slip: Answering your winter tire FAQs

If you live where it snows, getting snow tires for your car may help keep you safe this winter.

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Whether you're new to driving in winter weather or a veteran in need of a reminder, we've taken the time to answer your winter tire frequently asked questions. Read below to find out the answers to common winter tire questions.

Why do I need winter tires?

All the four-wheel or all-wheel drive in the world won't help your vehicle stop any faster on snow and ice, and the features may actually be detrimental because of their tendency to make drivers feel invincible. Winter tires feature special rubber compounds and tread patterns that help them maintain traction and performance when temperatures dip and the weather turns.

Many vehicles leave the factory with all-season tires, which work well in a huge variety of conditions, temperatures, and weather. They don't, however, do as well in freezing temperatures and snowy conditions.

What's the difference between all-season and winter tires?

The rubber compounds in all-season tires tend to harden in cold weather, which can lead them to crack and fail to provide solid traction. Winter tires are made with special compounds that remain pliable in cold weather to provide the best traction possible. They also have deep tread cuts, which allow for better grip in snow and slush. According to Tire Rack, winter tires provide about 21 percent more grip than all-seasons in similar conditions.

Instead of all four, can I buy just two winter tires?

Owners of front- or rear-wheel drive vehicles may feel tempted to buy winter tires only for the two wheels that are being driven by the engine, but that's a mistake. While it may help with acceleration in snow and bad weather, installing only two winter tires can lead to instability and loss of control, because the two wheels without winter tires will have far less traction. If you're considering buying winter tires, wait until you can buy all four.

Do I need snow tires if I have all-wheel drive? Snow mode?

All-wheel drive is all about traction control. If your vehicle is equipped with tires that don't offer enough traction to get a grip on the road surface, it doesn't matter what the AWD system (or drive modes) get up to. You'll be slipping and sliding wishing for snow tires when the first few inches of snow get packed onto the roadway.

Can I drive on winter tires in the summer?

That depends. Some parts of the country that receive regular winter snow have limitations on the types of tires that can be used in warmer months. Many areas bad the use of studded winter tires outside of cold weather, due to the studs' tendency to damage roads and reduce traction when there's no snow on the ground. Beyond that, standard winter tires don't provide the same level of wet traction and grip that all-season or summer tires do, and they can wear more quickly because of their rubber compounds.

Can I use the same winter tires next year?

If you rotate between summer/all-season and winter tires, you should be able to get a few years out of your winter tires. As they wear, like other tires, they'll offer less grip and the rubber compound will become less flexible.

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New driver assist technology is coming to the Lexus lineup later this year.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

New Lexus Teammate driver assistance technology will debut on the 2022 Lexus LS 500h later this year. Its availability is constrained to all-wheel drive models.

The technology was developed based on the Mobility Teammate Concept. This automated driving concept is unique to Toyota sough to enhance communication between drivers and cars, "enabling them to reach out to each other for mutual assistance". The concept sees cars and humans interacting and partnering rather than having automation take over for drivers. This approach allows drivers to enjoy the experience of driving but allowing the vehicle to take over some functions of driver's duties at times. In this way, the tech works as both guardian and chauffeur.

2022 Lexus The company's flagship sedan will get the technology first.Photo courtesy of Lexus

2022 Lexus LS 500h

On the 2022 Lexus 500h, Lexus Teammate will offer two functions: Advanced Drive and Advanced Park.

Advanced Drive is design to "accurately detect driving conditions to plan and execute acceleration, braking, and steering commands to maintain the vehicle within the lane, follow other vehicles, change lanes, navigate certain interchanges and traffic jams and overtake slower vehicles." It's a Level 2 functionality that "allows for driving on limited-access highways with partial hands-free, eyes-on-the-road operation".

This description makes it sound a lot like the suite of lane keeping, lane centering, and adaptive cruise control technology that Hyundai offers rather than true Level 3 technology that General Motors's Super Cruise delivers.

Lexus will show operation of the technology on a screen with information displayed like this.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Advanced Park operates similar to how the Genesis GV80's hands-free parking assist technology works. The Lexus tech automatically controls steering, acceleration, braking, and gear changes with parallel parking or backing into a parking space. It uses a combination of 360-degree sensing technologies and a bird's eye view display to perform the task while allowing the driver to monitor progress.

"We are very proud of Lexus Teammate, which is the culmination of five years of close collaboration between our technical centers in Japan and the US. We conducted simultaneous development and rigorous testing in both markets with the goal of achieving industry-leading advanced driver assistance functionality," says Derek Caveney, executive engineer at Toyota Motor North America's Integrated Vehicle Systems team.

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Ford is making a splash in the mountains of Moab with new concept vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

It's traditionally a Jeep-centric event. After all, it's call Easter Jeep Safari. But, other off-roading vehicles are welcome, which is how the Jeep Wrangler's biggest competitor ended up with four custom builds in Moab, Utah this week. The Bronco vehicles all feature new accessories that will soon be available from Ford's three new aftermarket accessories partners.

Custom Bronco by Ford Motor Company

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

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This custom Bronco Outer Banks is of the four-door variety and equipped with a Strategy Package. Ford says that the model "mixes high-tech luxury features with rugged off-road Ford-licensed accessories". It features JAC Products rock rails, fender flares by Air Design and Trail Armor rocker panel covers by Lund, with a 40-inch curved LED lightbar by Rigid on top and a retractable full-roof soft-top by Bestop. A matte black hood wrap and Covercraft windshield sunscreen are added to reduce glare.

The cabin of the Bronco is accessorized as well. It has secure stowage add-ons including a DC Safety rear cargo organizer plus roadside assistance and first-aid kit, a Tufty MOLLE straps and security drawer below, along with a Console Vault center console.

Custom Bronco by RTR Vehicles

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

RTR built this specially equipped on a four-door Bronco Badlands adding custom RTR rock sliders and rear bumper, RTR 3D-printed grille with simulated accent lights, and 35-inch Nitto Ridge Grappler tires mounted to RTR Tech-6 wheels. A roof-mounted Project X lightbar, custom RTR graphics, and 12-volt Type S Blizzard Box refrigerator/freezer in back complete the package.

Custom Bronco by 4 Wheel Parts

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company
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This custom Bronco Black Diamond four-door SUV features a mix of 4 Wheel Parts factory brand parts including a modular front bumper, skid plate and winch platform, heavy-duty suspension components, custom roof rack and light mounts, plus a Smittybilt overhead tent and camping gear, awning and refrigerator/air system. It rides on 37-inch BFGoodrich mud-terrain tires mounted to 17-inch Method alloy wheels.

Custom Bronco by ARB 4x4 Accessories

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

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This custom Bronco sports high-performance off-road parts designed by ARB specifically for Bronco two- and four-door models. It's built on the Bronco Badlands model and enhanced airbag-compliant front and rear bumpers, heavy duty rock sliders and differential cover, plus essential off-road accessories like an ARB twin compressor, jack, and Zero refrigerator/freezer.

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