Traction and Tires: What Really Matters in Colder Climates?

January 09, 2023
EV Universe
EV Universe

Welcome to another installment of EV Universe’s podcast, Plug In For More! This episode is titled “Traction and Tires: What Really Matters in Colder Climates?”


If you’ve been following us, you may know that we ran a series of episodes on EV winter tips. Our first episode on how to prepare for Winter driving in your electric vehicle. The second one covered EV heating tips. In this latest installment, the PIFM team discusses the importance of traction and tires in colder climates.


Find your EV here. View Listings


Click on the play button below for this podcast episode on best practices with traction and tires in the wintertime:



In case you can’t listen to the podcast right now, find a full transcript for this episode below:


Traction and Tires – Podcast Episode Transcript

Mike Dull: 0:00

Welcome to the Plug in for More podcast. This is episode three item winter driving with Aaron Jones, our EV expert, Tom, I’m really excited to listen to this. This conversation is going to be very interesting, I think just from a fact of how to tire is effecting not only a range, but how do you drive in the winter? Is it different in EV versus a gas powered vehicle? I think I know the difference. But, you know, let’s find out what Aaron has to say.


Tom Flitton: 0:26

Yeah, it’s a really interesting conversation. And there’s a lot of things that you can take away from it that maybe you didn’t even know to apply to regularize vehicles. So it’s, it’s a good talk, and I hope you enjoy the listen.


Announcer: 0:36

Welcome to plug in for more brought to you by EVuniverse is your one stop shop for all things related to the electric vehicle. Here on this podcast. Our goal is to educate, inspire, and hopefully make your transition into the electric vehicle marketplace a lot less intimidating. And now, here are your hosts, Mike, Tom, and Brian.


Mike Dull: 1:02

So Tom, one of the things that happened in my world this week is my neighbor got an r1 T. supercool truck, he brought it over, we went through it, we’re going to be doing a video on our YouTube channel about it.


Tom Flitton: 1:14



Mike Dull: 1:14

And we’re gonna have Aaron Aaron’s gonna break it down with that gentleman as well. So hope everyone tunes in. If you haven’t checked out our YouTube channel, please go ahead and do that. It’s EVuniverse. And we’re going to be going through that thing with a fine tooth comb, getting that guy’s thoughts on the first few months of ownership. And it’s a nice looking truck. It seen it in person again, it’s been a little while since I’ve seen one. It’s nice. He’s really impressed with it. So tune in.


Tom Flitton: 1:42

Very cool, and this is also a timely episode for me with winter driving. Northern Michigan has been pummeled along with the rest of the northeast of the country. About a foot of snow outside my house right now. Had an unfortunate incident a few nights ago with my work vehicle with a deer which I put me down and all wheel drive charger. Now I’m into a two wheel drive charger with some fairly unfortunate tires. So I’m really trying to heed the lessons here from this episode.


Mike Dull: 2:09

Very interesting. Well, good luck to that car getting repaired and just really excited to talk to Aaron here.


Announcer: 2:16

You’re listening to the plugin for more podcast. If you’re looking for information on electric vehicles, electric vehicles components or information on how to reduce your carbon footprint. Look no further than is your one stop shop for all things related to electric vehicle.


Tom Flitton: 2:35

Aaron I’m really excited to talk to you about tires and tires are one of the most underrated things with a car. People take it for granted. And it’s often one of the most critical components. But I hear a lot about EB tires being different from gas vehicle tires. And I don’t know if that’s composition. I don’t know that sighs I’m not sure what it is. But I would love some input from you on what we’re looking at for tires and EVs.


Aaron Jones: 3:01

Yeah. So I think today my job is going to be dispelling some of these myths when we talk about there being a difference. Set of electric vehicle tires compared to ice vehicles. One of the things we kind of look at is now we’re starting to see branded tires for electric vehicles. Continental just came out with a set of Bridgestone has a set. But the crazy thing is, is that these tires are just a higher performing tire. They’re nothing very special from what we would see with ice vehicles. It’s like saying that Cheerios are now made with whole wheat when they’ve always been made with whole wheat. But now we’re gonna slap an EV sticker on these tires, and we’re going to be able to sell them to a whole different market.


So when we look at like what EVs need, I mean, they don’t have anything special that you can’t get from a tire that’s not already produced. So one of the big things and probably the most crucial thing that an Eevee is going to need is is a lot more traction. So when we look at traction ratings, it’s going to be scaled from double A, A, B and C, double A being the most traction, you can get out of a tire. Okay? Now most EVs are going to come with either a double A or an A rated tire. And they need this because I mean, heck, they have the torque of a million horses all the time. So if you think about having 100% torque all the time, it means you’re just going to either sit there and burn out at the light or your traction control is going to kick on and you’re not going to have a very fun drive.


The other side of that other than going fast is being able to stop fast. So we look in I mean tires are these cars are pretty heavy and the heavier the the A car, the longer it’s going to take to stop. So one way we can kind of cut the stopping time of a tie or have a vehicle is with their tires. So you give a higher traction profile tire, the car is going to be able to stop a lot faster. It’s one of those things that we often see tire companies test with. And definitely double A traction tires are going to stop faster than the B rated tire. So the next thing that we’re kind of looking at, especially in terms of like efficiency, and and just overall EV performance would be a lower rolling resistance. When we talk about rolling resistance, we’re talking about like the energy that your vehicle has to send to your tires to maintain movement.


So what it breaks down to is how much of that tire is making contact with the road and how much that road is slowing down that tires inertia. So when you look at like a lower rolling resistance, you want something that’s not going to kind of splat on the road as it comes around, it’s like a softer tire is going to take up more of a footprint when it comes down, then a harder tire. The other thing is you want to make sure that your tread patterns aren’t so aggressive that it’s making more contact with the road. So we often see low rolling resistance tires having kind of a very aggressive tread pattern. As far as like tread belts, or like tread canyons will call him just because it was not going to make as much, much contact. But the crazy thing is about low rolling resistance tires is that these guys have been around forever. It wasn’t until recently that they started marketing these towards electric vehicles, they actually used to be called fuel saving tires.


Tom Flitton: 6:56

So I have to imagine that now, you know, as you’re explaining through this, there’s like competing interests, if you will, I mean, you want to have low rolling resistance for the efficiency and maybe your your range of an Eevee. But that’s going to take away from traction if you have less of a footprint on the roadway.


Aaron Jones: 7:15

Yeah, and that’s kind of the hard part too. So when EVs first started coming around, we started seeing, especially with like the Prius, or plug in hybrids, as well, we saw a heavy push to low rolling resistance tires. At some point in time, you know, it was said that the Prius could not come with any other tire other than a low rolling resistance. So that definitely affected people in colder climates, and things such as that because they’re not great for the winter.


But now as cars are getting more and more range, I mean, we’re seeing average range levels at like 270 miles a charge throughout the Evie world, low rolling resistance tires like you don’t need a very specific low rolling resistance tire. And a lot of companies are actually being able to kind of accomplish a lower rolling resistance by making lower profile tires. So giving you some bigger wheels, some better, some better offset. And just kind of running with all seasons like all season tires are going to be considerably lower rolling resistance than a summer winter. Sure.


The other thing you’re really going to want to take a peek at is your load ratings. EVs are going to have a higher low rating most of the time you’re going to see your tire being rated at like XL. This is because they’re once again much heavier than ice and so between 22 Honda Civic, that’s going to be about 3000 pounds. Your model three is going to be about 4000 pounds. Tom’s Mark II was gonna be about 4500 pounds the Ionic is 4200 pounds and so forth and so on. So standard sedans and hatchbacks are gonna wait, you know, almost half a ton if not more than a regular ice vehicle. So they need each wheel needs to be able to hold about 500 pounds or each tire should be overhauled about 500 pounds. But most tires that come on EVs are rated at 1000 pounds per tire. So which is pretty good, if not a little bit more. But other than that, I mean there’s nothing special.


Oh, noise reduction. We’ll talk about that because that’s that’s kind of the dark cloud of the evening tire world is noise reduction and all noise reduction is is foam on the inside of the tire. Okay, that’s it. It’s a foam sheet that is urethane and on. It sits there Lace and it makes the tire a little bit quieter. Now the reason that this is kind of like, controversial is because one the world’s not kind of used to time like tire repair shops, facilities like that they’re not quite used to them. So a lot of the time we see conversation about these tires are not repairable or we will not repair these tires, tire manufacturers in the United States Association. They have recently released a bulletin and said, That’s false repair these tires all you want, and it only includes like two extra steps. So like when when you’re repairing the tire, you’re actually going to remove it from the wheel and you’re going to cut the section of foam out that has the impact in it. And then it just doesn’t go back in and there is no noise difference in the consumer.


So we’re starting to see especially Discount Tire like discount tires made a huge Evie marketing push like they’re like we love your EVs. We’ll repair your abs bring them into us like Let’s tear this market up. When you look at like consumers being able to purchase tires that are not original equipment with the foam. It’s a lot easier than people make it out to be. If we look at Bridgestone continental Dunlop Michelin Hancock, Goodyear Pirelli, and a few others all have noise reduction tires that are excelling load rating, double A traction and come in all season summer or winter. I mean, the parolees are the winter choice of Tesla, continental makes a low rolling resistance tire. And then the rest of them I mean, it’s not that you need to go to Discount Tire and so I need a tire for my EV that’s more than I need. I need a tire with good traction. I need a tire with a great load rating. And kind of depending on your climate, like do you need an all season? Or can you run with a summer tire?


Tom Flitton: 12:02

How about longevity for an EV tire compared to what we’d be used to have a ICE vehicle.


Aaron Jones: 12:07

That’s where the EVS do have a downfall that, unfortunately, it’s kind of just the combination of the beast. So you take the weight of the EV, you take the instant torque that you’re gonna have. Not only that, but you take the higher traction tire and kind of the more performance based tires. And I always tell owners that your first set of tires are going to wear out the fastest. That’s because you’re launching all your friends, you’re getting used to regenerative braking, you’re driving the heck out of this car, which you should be. And that’s you get used to it, but put it to the test.


But I mean, commonly you’ll see about 20 to 25,000 miles out of the first set of tires. Now, there’s a lot of ways to combat this. First off, get it out of your head that electric vehicles don’t need maintenance, you have to maintain your tires. And that starts with adhering to the manufacturer’s recommendation of tire rotations. Now most recommendations are going to be about 6500 miles, I honestly like to be a little bit more aggressive. I like to rotate my tires about every 5000 miles. But that’s, that’s because I do oil changes at 5000. But you guys don’t have to do oil changes. So you’re gonna have to just kind of remind yourself to rotate your tires, just as my rule of thumb. Some people in the street follow this, but I rotate my tires every 5000.


Every other rotation I like to get my tires balanced, which really is just handling and comfort of the tires, I like to get my cars alignment checked once a year, that’s the best way to kind of provide the longest tire life that you can get out. The other thing we’re going to see is that EVs are going to have a little bit higher of a tire pressure, that’s load rating. I mean, you’re going to need to be putting these cars at about 39 to 45 psi maintaining that will help maintain the life of your tire, it’s going to help with your efficiency. Overall, just we’ll keep that annoying TPMS light off in the winter.


Tom Flitton: 14:06

We are recording now middle November, I’m in northern Michigan, as we all know, I’m looking outside at about two inches of snow fresh on the ground. Now I have yet to have my Mach E we’re still waiting on that to get the build date, you know, but I’m thinking about regenerative braking. I’m thinking about all of this torque for electric vehicles that we’re talking about. How does that play out? Driving on slick, icy snowy roads.


Aaron Jones: 14:31

I’m kind of hoping that somebody from Ford is going to listen to this and be like guys, we gotta get Tom his car and we gotta get Tom in his car now. So I think the first thing to kind of hop into is, do I need winter tires? I’m from usually sunny North Carolina. We see snow about once every four years so I can’t really say that I have had a need to ever put snow tires on my car. But there are a lot of there’s a lot of science behind summer all season and winter tires, and your cars are going to come off of the line with all seasons.


The reason for that is because they’re going to be quieter, they’re going to last longer. And really, they’re just going to be an overall average performance, like there’s nothing that’s going to be too much, there’s nothing that’s gonna be too little scoring, your cards are going to come with summer tires More times than not. And summer tires are going to have a wider profile, they’re often going to be much better with traction than all season tires, that’s just because of hydroplaning and stopping. But anything right around 30 degrees and blow with all seasons and summers, your rubber compound is going to start getting really stiff. And that non non low rolling resistance tires is going to become a low rolling resistance tires, because it’s not going to be able to grip the road the way it needs to. So if so it’s just my opinion. If you guys see snow flurries, once a year, twice a year, it doesn’t really stick. All Seasons should take care of you just fine. Just be careful.


Now, people who need winter tires, aka you should swap the winter tires. I mean, they’re going to usually have the special rubber compound that works better in colder temps, and are awful in hot temps. Not only that, but they’re gonna have a much deeper tread Canyon. And this is the kind of like throw snow and slush out while they’re driving. Just kind of to help you gain a little bit of traction. Now as far as like studded versus non studded idol, I don’t know if it’s like 50 degrees here today. But there is some importance in getting snow tires. And I think it’s important with EVs because, like we were talking about earlier, you’ve got 100 degree or 100% torque.


When we look at that to EVs are going to come with regenerative braking, or one pedal driving is kind of what we’re calling it nowadays. A lot of EVs are not going to have regenerative braking, in the colder weather to begin with. And that’s just because it’s too cold to kind of put that juice back into the battery. So the beginning of your drive, that region is probably going to be disabled. But long and short of it is if there are winter conditions on the road, turn off your region turn off your one pedal driving, it can lead to sudden stops, which could lead to sliding, needing to have traction control intervention, it’s just smart to kind of take that off and regain full control of the vehicle.


Now I know some EVs you can’t turn it off completely, but those EVs usually have a snow mode, or a winter mode that you can put it into kind of Ford that specifically now, while I didn’t have a lot of experience here, I did work in Norway for about five weeks in the middle of February. And you know, we drove model S’s model X’s, all with the region off and EVs have some of the most insane trash control. I mean, they can save you from just about anything. But an important message for that. And just in my experience I’ve seen this so many times is trash control only works as good as your tires. So my experience has been that a lot of EV owners get these vehicles don’t realize that their tires are going to wear out so quickly. They don’t have them checked, because they’re not coming in every 5000 miles for an oil change. And then that unfortunately, it leads to hydroplaning.


And to a lot of what in the industry we call non drivable accidents and a non drive accident is anytime that your vehicle is in an accident that you cannot drive away. That has to be immediately towed to a body shop. One thing to remember is that these cars have an insane amount of torque. And while trash control can do everything in its life, if you have hydroplane. You’re on an ice sheet, and you have no grip left in your tires. But unfortunately, it’s not the machines fault at that point.


Tom Flitton: 19:41

Yeah, So Aaron, how much are these tires gonna cost me?


Aaron Jones: 19:45

When we look at a higher performance tire, which is what we’re gonna get with an EV we’re going to be looking at about roughly about 280 to 320 a tire. Now to compare that you’re looking at about that same price range with a BMW three series. is and that’s the non run flat tire. When we look at run flats, we’re looking at about 350. And then looking at like, I did this earlier 2019 Honda Accord. Just looking at its base tire, I mean, it was 250 $270 off of off of a tire website.


So while the tires are not terribly inexpensive I don’t believe that it’s because they’re electric vehicle tires, I think it’s because it’s a very well performing higher load rating noise reduction tire. So if you want look for tires that are not for EVs just look at their specs, you know, look, make sure that they’re going to hit all your check marks, and see if they’re priced different. If they are, then someone’s definitely rolling on the EV gravy train of 2023.


Tom Flitton: 20:50

Yeah. Hey, Aaron, I really appreciate all the information on tires, I think it’s really helpful for people that are going to be getting into this space to have a better feel for what they’re looking for one of the winter. You know, this being our third installment for the winter driving series that we’ve been trying to do. So thank you for your time and your wisdom and expertise.


Aaron Jones: 21:08

Yeah, thanks for having me. One thing I just want to add is, for everyone who’s still listening near the end, remember that the tires are the only thing that make your car touch the road. So not to do a scare tactic, but a tire can be the difference between a really bad day and a not so bad day. So figure out a way to maintain them, take care of them and they’ll take care of you.


Tom Flitton: 21:33

Awesome, thank you.


Announcer: 21:34

Thank you for listening to plug in for more. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. In the meantime, check out the One Stop EV marketplace, Until next time.


End of transcript


Stay tuned for more episodes of Plug In For More!

Auto Blog

Plug in for more