The first winter-specific tires were pressed into service nearly ninety years ago, facilitating large cargo truck deliveries throughout the harsh winters of Northern Europe. The 1930s saw an explosion in the sales of automobiles globally, and just a few years later that truck tire was redeveloped in passenger car sizes, bringing winter weather traction to the masses. The goal was to give regular drivers a more surefooted winter driving experience, in spite of the era’s poor road conditions and lack of road-clearing chemicals and machinery. Decades later and winter tires still offer incredible safety benefits today.
In cold-weather environments, it’s incredibly important to have the right tire for your seasonal needs. You’ll want a softer compound of rubber to remain pliable in colder temperatures, more biting edges to maintain braking and acceleration grip, and typically a softer and taller sidewall to cope with ice-induced road imperfections. All of this combines to give your car more overall control in snow and ice conditions, with shorter stopping distances and better-turning grip than a typical all-season tire.
Having a dedicated set of winter tires for your everyday car, truck, or SUV is imperative for everyone living in a northern climate, or really anywhere that temperatures are frequently below freezing. Many drivers cite the inconvenience and added cost of swapping from summer to winter tires every year as a reason to avoid them. Consider, however, that having a set of winter tires could be the difference between stopping ten feet short of the car in front of you and stopping somewhere in the middle of the back seat. The value proposition is crystal clear, and that’s before we bring your insurance company into the conversation.
Thanks to improved chassis dynamics, smart anti-lock braking, as well as advanced traction and stability control, modern automobiles are better capable of surviving the worst of winter driving. However, if you don’t have the right tires at each corner of your vehicle, you can’t take full advantage of those driving safety systems. Each cold-weather mile on the wrong tires is a gamble, and you’re betting on the losing team.
Early winter tires were a huge step forward in the world of tire tech, blending new compounds and new tread patterns to conquer the white and fluffy stuff. In the ensuing decades, tire manufacturers have gotten much better about blending these compounds and tread patterns in a way that makes a winter tire ready to tackle the icy stuff, rainy wet mess, slush, and even cold dry pavement in equal measure. With the right blends of silica and carbon, modern winter tires are grippier and more pliable while also capable of enduring many more miles before wearing out.
With Continental’s new VikingContact™ 7, you get the winter traction you need to keep your car and everyone inside it as safe as possible. Continental uses a special rubber compound called PolarPlus, which uses silane compounds to keep the tread blocks flexible in extreme cold temperatures, aiding the VikingContact™7’s traction properties. This tire has been rated by the US Tire Manufacturer’s Association and the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada as meeting the requirements of a ‘severe snow service’ tire, as denoted by the little symbol of a tri-peaked mountain with a snowflake inside it on the sidewall.
I grew up in rural Michigan, where the lake-effect snow frequently made the drive to work a potential nightmare in the making. Once I discovered the security of winter tires I never went back to the compromise of an all-season. I remember folks lamenting how bad their cars were handling in the winter, but it wasn’t really the car’s fault. They were just using inappropriate tires for the weather. Don’t blame your car for poor traction, it’s only as good as the rubber connecting it to the road.
If you’re looking for a tire that uses the most advanced winter tire technology out there to help you get through the winter swaddled in comfort and safety, it’s time to fit your vehicle with a set of the new-for-2023 Continental VikingContact™7 tires. This premium winter tire provides superb grip, powerful traction and braking, and a confident steering response—especially in the gnarliest of snow and ice conditions. With 91 different tire sizes available, ranging from 15 to 21-inch diameters, there is sure to be a VikingContact™7 to help your car, light truck, crossover, or SUV conquer the cold this winter.