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How Tire Traction Works

        Auto | Wheels

Tire Traction Enhancers
Carlos Santiago-Morales of Lakewood, Wash. checks his tire chains after driving from Lakewood to bring food, water and other supplies to his grandparents in Tacoma, Wash.
Carlos Santiago-Morales of Lakewood, Wash. checks his tire chains after driving from Lakewood to bring food, water and other supplies to his grandparents in Tacoma, Wash.
AP Photo/The News Tribune, Craig Sailor

In severe weather, lack of traction can either result in the pain in the neck of having your car stuck in a snowdrift or it could result in something as serious as a collision. The critical factor in avoiding either problem is the ability of your tires to bite through the loose and slippery stuff and claw into something solid.

To this end, tire traction enhancers can help. Of course the low-tech, old-school solution that nearly all northerners in the United States have seen, are snow chains. These metal chains fit harness-like around a vehicle's tires and provide additional grab in snowy and icy road conditions.

Newer to the scene are spray-on enhancers that make tires more sticky, and fabric wheel coverings intended for low-speed, short distance driving over snow- and ice-covered roads. Consumer Reports, the impartial consumer products testing magazine, has reported on such devices and concluded that while these traction enhancers may be effective to a degree, your best bet is a set of seasonal snow tires [source: Petersen].

For more information about tires, traction and other related topics, follow the links on the next page.


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