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.

Photo by Getty Images

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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The all-electric ID.4 will help its pilot and navigator tackle the grueling race route.

Volkswagen

Off-road racing and endurance races are nothing new, but the Rebelle Rally's approach is unique. The event is the first all-women event of its kind in the U.S. and takes participants through severely challenging terrain with no electronic aids allowed for navigation. This year, Volkswagen is bringing its new ID.4 EV to the event to be piloted by driver Mercedes Lilienthal and navigator Emily Winslow.

Volkswagen ID.4 Mercedes Lilienthal and Emily Winslow will pilot the ID.4.Volkswagen

Tanner Foust Racing and Rhys Millen Racing modified the VW with new suspension system, tubular control arms, fabricated skid plates, battery protection, and other off-road-ready kit. The crossover has also been fited with a Thule roof rack and Yokohama Geolandar A/T tires.

The ID.4's battery and electric motor will remain untouched. That means a combined output of 295 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque. The 82 kWh battery can deliver an EPA-estimated range of 249 miles on a charge, but keep in mind that the terrain the team will be tackling will have an impact on that number.

The 2021 event marks the sixth year for the all-women rally raid. Teams are faced with 1,400 miles of desert in Nevada and California, and must navigate the racecourse without the use of electronic guides, such as GPS or cell phones. From the start in Las Vegas to the finish in Glamis, CA, participants must use maps, compasses, and their own skill to navigate.

Volkswagen ID.4 Several modifications were made to the suspension and other components.Volkswagen

Even though it's the ID.4's maiden year on the market, the electric crossover has already had a successful run in motorsport. Earlier this year, another modified version of the vehicle competed in the NORRA Mexican 1000. It was also massaged by Tanner Foust Racing and Rhys Millen Racing, and VW notes that the ID.4 that we'll see in Rebelle Rally vehicle was improved using data from its first races.

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New sports sedan

2022 Infiniti Q50 gets more standard tech

The car sees new tech and interior features for 2022.

Infiniti

The Infiniti Q50 is an aging but still-stylish sedan that offers value and power, but it hasn't quite kept pace with the crop of more engaging premium European cars. However, it's still worth a look, and to press that point further, Infiniti has updated the car for 2022 with a healthy list of standard features.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Exterior styling has not changed for 2022.Infiniti

Headline updates for the 2022 Q50 are wireless Apple CarPlay and newly standard Bose Performance Series Audio. There's now leather for every trim, but in the ways that count, the car is the same as the one we saw last year, the year before, and so on.

That's not to say that the car is bad. After all, it still offers a 300-horsepower twin-turbo V6 as standard and can be upgraded with a 400-horsepower version of the engine. And, despite its aging exterior styling, it's still a handsome car with smooth, sculpted bodywork. The seven-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive remain in place.

2022 Infiniti Q50 All-wheel drive is available for all models.Infiniti

Pricing for the 2022 Infiniti Q50 starts at $43,125, which includes a $1,025 destination fee. The car gets standard wireless Apple CarPlay, leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and Bose Performance Audio. All-wheel drive is available for a $2,000 upcharge.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Wireless Apple CarPlay and Bose audio are standard.Infiniti

The mid-range Q50 Sensory starts at $48,825, and comes with 19-inch wheels, black open-pore wood interior accents, navigation, and an air purifier system. Stepping up to the top Q50 Red Sport 400 will run $56,975, and brings the more powerful V6 engine, semi-aniline leather upholstery, and Dynamic Digital Suspension, which adjusts damping settings depending on road conditions and driving style.

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