Winter tires have been around since the 1930’s, first introduced for trucks and then just a few years later for passenger vehicles. Prior to that, regular tires were used during winter months, and in some places, like Canada and the Scandinavian countries, this didn’t provide as much handling or traction control as the conditions often required.
The First Winter Tires
The very first set of winter tires came from Finland in 1934, when Nokian first manufactured tires suited for trucks as a way to ensure that they had a better chance of successfully reaching their destinations. This was during a time when there were still many horses and carts on the roads, and the vehicles weren’t as robust as they are now. Having a set of tires to help keep trucks and cars under control had a huge impact on keeping drivers, pedestrians and horses safe.
Unique Tread Design
When these new winter tires were first sold, they featured a completely unique tread design for the time. The tires created for early vehicles had very slight tread patterns, but winter tires were designed with an entirely new style which included significantly larger teeth, helping the tire ‘bite’ into the snow and offer maximum traction.
Introduction by More Brands
After Nokian introduced their first dedicated winter tire offering, many other manufacturers quickly followed suit and introduced their versions. For example, Goodyear introduced their Suburbanite winter tires in 1952, and their first studded tire model was announced in 1965. In 1972, Michelin Tires patented a snow tire that included their latest technology: a tire design that includes variable width recesses in the tread, helping grip in the snow and ice.
Studded Winter Tires
Studded tires started to be produced by major manufacturers in the 1960’s, further helping drivers stay in control of their vehicles in a range of conditions.
Across all of the major manufacturers, one thing is clear: regardless of when and where they were first invented, winter tires just keep getting better and better! There have been some amazing innovations introduced over the past few decades, and don’t expect that that to change any time soon. The research and development funding for winter tire is huge, and some of the most recent introductions include:
- Microbit Technology: Toyo Tires has incorporated walnut shells into their winter products. Walnut shells are among the hardest natural materials, digging into the snow and ice to provide improved traction. They’re also an environmentally friendly choice.
- Silica compounds have been included in the winter tire offerings from Cooper Tires, Goodyear Tires, Bridgestone Tires, and many others.
- Optimizations in materials, siping and tread patterns designed to increase traction, reduce road noise and ensure vehicle owners can still enjoy driving in the winter are common across many manufacturers.
Regardless of your choice of tire, for the overwhelming majority of Canadians, we’d recommend having your winter tires installed between October 1st and the end of April, and always using sets of four.
Wondering about how the latest innovations could help you get from Point A to Point B? Your local Tirecraft dealer can recommend a great set for your driving style and needs.