Do you really need snow tires?
Experts agree: If you drive regularly on ice or snow, you'll be safer on
winter tires than on all-season tires. "When temperatures drop and snow
falls, there is no question that dedicated winter tires provide the best road-
holding grip," says Gene Petersen at ConsumerReport.org. He adds that in
their testing, ConsumerReports.org found that "winter tires easily
command a 20-percent bene t in snow and ice traction over all-season
tires, and some of the best winter tires have nearly twice the grip as some
Keep in mind that winter tires aren't just for snow; cold temperatures can
harden regular tires' rubber, reducing their ability to grip pavement,
especially when things get icy. But softer, more porous snow tires
absolutely thrive in cold climates. The colder it gets, the more tenaciously
Types of snow tires
Snow Tires for Passenger Cars
Unlike all-season tires, snow tires for passenger cars have special tread
designs and compounds to grip better on snow, ice and cold pavement.
Studded Snow Tires
Studded winter tires are designed for motorists who have to contend with
extreme winter-weather conditions on a prolonged and regular basis.
These tires have built-in metal teeth that bite into ice. They're loud, and
they can damage pavement. Still, studded tires outperform studless
versions at a crucial task -- braking on slippery ice.
Best Snow Tires | Top 7 Snow Tire Reviews
Performance Winter Tires
These are designed for high-performance cars. They grip better on wet and
dry roads than regular snow tires, so they're also great for mild winters --
you'll be ready in case it snows, without giving up performance when it's
warmer. They don't cling quite as stickily to ice, though.
Snow Tires for SUVs and Light Trucks
These are similar to passenger-car snow tires -- and some lines are also
available in sizes suitable for coupes and sedans -- but are top performers
when installed on bigger, heavier vehicles.
What if I have all-wheel drive?
Just because you have an all-wheel-drive car doesn't mean you don't need
winter tires, as the editors of Popular Mechanics found out. In a test,
reviewers drove two identical Chevy Equinoxes -- one with front-wheel
drive and one with all-wheel drive (AWD) -- on a packed-snow track with a
The AWD Equinox equipped with snow tires braked the quickest from 60
mph; when equipped with all-season tires, the same Equinox went from
rst to worst in terms of stopping distance. The front-wheel-drive Equinox
also handled better when using snow tires than with all-season wheels.
"On snow tires, both cars came to a halt about a car length sooner -- often
the di erence between a close call and a call to your insurance company,"
When using winter tires, both models also enjoyed a slight advantage in
acceleration, cornering (how tightly a vehicle hugs the road in curves), and
climbing a 10-percent grade. Bottom line, according to Popular Mechanics
and virtually every other expert we consulted: AWD or not, winter tires
trump all-weather tires in ice and snow.
A word about price estimates
Unless otherwise indicated, pricing estimates in this report are per tire,
and for the smallest size available at retail. Be aware that larger tires can
cost more, sometimes a lot more. Pricing also doesn't include installation --
sometimes free, depending on your retailer -- and you can incur extra costs
for balancing, stems, tire disposal, etc. If buying online, some sellers o er
free shipping, but others do not; shipping costs on one tire, let alone four,
can sometimes be substantial.
How we picked the best snow tires
ConsumerReports.org conducts the most exacting snow tire tests.
TireRack.com, a tire retailer, also conducts impartial reviews and names
best choices. We also found a very helpful six-tire test conducted by Car
and Driver magazine. Testers in countries where winters are even ercer
than what we see in the U.S. also provide valuable insights, and we looked
at feedback from experts such as Canada's Automobile Protection
Association and the Norwegian Automobile Federation. We scoured
hundreds of owner reviews, as well -- they're an essential piece of the
puzzle -- to nd out whether a given snow tire will really help you stay safe
in the winter. When analyzing these reviews we take into consideration
how well the tire grips on icy, snowy, wet and dry pavement, the quality
and noise of the ride while using the tires, and how well the tread holds up
If a Midwest snow storm can teach us one lesson, it's that it's never too
early in the season to start thinking about winter tires. "We start
encouraging drivers to think about snow tires in September," says John
Rastetter, a senior executive at Tire Rack , a prominent national tire retailer.
Even if you weren't among the millions who spent a weekend before
Halloween shoveling snow instead of raking leaves, know that winter is
upon us and the most important thing you can do to get your car ready is
to make sure it is riding on the right tires for the season.
Why snow tires?Why snow tires?
While many drivers assume that regular all-season tires are just ne for
year-round driving, that's only true if you live in a temperate climate. If you
live where it snows – or your area experiences routine sub-40 degree
Fahrenheit temperatures – a set of dedicated winter tires will dramatically
improve your safety during the coldest months. While brand new all-
season tires can provide reasonable traction during the winter, their
performance is roughly equivalent to half-worn snow tires, says Rastetter.
Half-worn all-season tires, on the other hand, are unsuitable for winter
driving in snow and on icy roads.
Winter tires gain their advantage not only because they have superior tread
patterns that are designed for traction on ice and snow, but because they
employ softer rubber compounds to enhance grip. This winter rubber is
designed to perform, not only when there's snow and ice on the pavement,
but in cold temperatures on dry pavement. This is why winter tires are not
suitable for summer, warm-weather driving, as their softer rubber and
more open tread pattern will wear rapidly. Likewise, low-pro le summer
performance tires are terrible in cold temperatures. All-season tires
compromise their winter ability in order to be used during the summer.
Many reasons for, few against.
Are Snow Tires Really Worth It?
While drivers of rear-wheel-drive cars have long employed dedicated
winter tires, mounted on an extra set of wheels for easy changeover, it's
only been in the last decade that drivers of front- and all-wheel-drive
vehicles have embraced the bene t of such an arrangement. While snow
tires help a car get moving on icy pavement – always the prime motivation
for owners of rear-drive cars – they also help any car to both stop and
corner in snow and ice.
Indeed, braking performance is the biggest reason why drivers of front-
and all-wheel-drive cars would choose winter tires, as they dramatically
decrease stopping distance. Tests conducted by Tire Rack saw a 35-percent
improvement in braking when using winter tires over standard all-season
tires. And that percentage could constitute a life-and-death difference.
One of the biggest reasons customers have for not buying snow tires is
always cost. A complete set of winter rubber mounted on spare wheels
can easily cost $1,000 (or more) for owners of high-end vehicles with large
wheels. Yet when compared to the cost of an insurance deductible – or the
possibility that a good set of winter tires might be the di erence between
life and death in an accident – the tires make good sense.
The other factor that many drivers do not employ in their 'can I a ord
winter tires?' math is that the use of winter tires prolongs the life of your
primary tires. "It may be an extra thousand dollars today," says Rastetter,
"but it's going to stretch them out from two to three years of service to ve
to six years of service."
Think of it this way: Instead of buying two sets of all-season tires over the
ownership of your car, you're buying a set of all season tires and a set of
snow tires. Really, the only extra cost is the additional set of wheels.
"These Are The Best Winter Tires You Can
Buy" AutoGuide.com News
The winter season is here and with it comes all the snow, slush, iceThe winter season is here and with it comes all the snow, slush, ice
and muck that makes driving during this time such a headache.and muck that makes driving during this time such a headache.
However you can cut through all that mess if your car is equipped with
winter tires. You may be wondering what winter tires to get, and we’ve got
some handy information from the folks at TireRack.com to help point you
in the right direction.
Customers at TireRack.com have reported back to the online retailer via
surveys, explaining their likes and dislikes on the winter tires they
purchased, and there’s a staggering 130,915 surveys o ering info. Things
from the amount of miles logged on a set of tires, to the way they feel in
the wet and dry are all ranked and it allows us to get a good understanding
of what the best tires you can get are. These surveys have been going on
since 1997, and encompass 459 different tire models.
Here are the best winter tires they are in each respective category for both
cars and SUVs.
Studless Ice & Snow:Studless Ice & Snow:
These are your typical winter tires. Without the use of studs, these tires are
designed to provide traction in ice and snow. They may not be best winter
tires for dry and wet weather, but they’ll provide the best con dence in
Bridgestone Blizzak WS80Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
The Bridgestones Blizzak WS80 were the top rated tire according to
TireRack customers, netting over 1.3 million miles of reported reviews.
These tires topped all others o ered at the online retailer earning top
marks in snow and ice performance while also impressing owners with
their performance in the wet as well. Owners all seem to agree that they’d
recommend these tires to someone else.
Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT
Studdable Winter / SnowStuddable Winter / Snow
Drivers who live in areas that see a lot of ice may want to get these kinds of
tires, which can be equipped with studs to enhance grip in slippery
situations. On the other hand, they don’t need studs to be e ective winter
General Altimax ArcticGeneral Altimax Arctic
The General Altimax Arctic has over 11 million miles on the road according
to its reviewers, and are regarded as the best tires in this category by the
online retailer. It earned top marks in the snow and ice performance, in
addition to dry road performance, where studded tires can be a pain.
Finally, the tires also received the best rating in the class for comfort.
Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter
Pirelli Winter Carving Edge
Performance Winter / SnowPerformance Winter / Snow
These tires are designed to have some basic capabilities in the snow and
ice, but are designed to excel at cold, dry weather driving.
Pirelli Winter Snowcontrol Serie 3Pirelli Winter Snowcontrol Serie 3
With 63,000 miles logged, these Pirelli Winter Snowcontrol Serie 3 tires are
the top rated items o ered at TireRack, thanks to high marks in comfort
and dry weather handling. The tires also scored quite highly with
customers in the Wet and Snow categories as well.
Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4
Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3
Light Truck/SUV Studless Ice & SnowLight Truck/SUV Studless Ice & Snow
SUVs and Crossovers need winter tires too, even if they have fancy all-
wheel drive systems. The tires are the essential part of the vehicle that
gives it traction, and if the rubber has no grip then nothing will change that.
Like the car categories, these Studless Ice and Snow tires are the tires
designed to excel in snow and ice, while being adequate at dry and wet
Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2
Bridgestone delivers another solid o ering for winter tires, this time with
the SUV focused Blizzak DM-V2. These tires delivered the best ratings for
everything except treadwear, so if you’re looking for the most capable tire
for your truck then these are them.
Yokohama iceGUARD iG51v
Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1
Light Truck/SUV Studdable Winter / SnowLight Truck/SUV Studdable Winter / Snow
If you’re worried about driving your truck on ice, then you need to consider
getting studdable winter tires. While able to provide good traction in the
snow thanks to good winter tire compound, these tires have the optional
bene t of being able to have studs which will improve traction on icey
Firestone Winterforce LTFirestone Winterforce LT
The Firestone Winterforce LT was the top product o ered here, with
reviewers racking up 828,000 miles and reporting excellent performance in
the dry in addition to the already good handling in the snow and ice.
Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT SUV
Firestone Winterforce UV
Light Truck/SUV Performance Winter / SnowLight Truck/SUV Performance Winter / Snow
It’s a niche, but they’re winter tires nonetheless. These tires are designed to
provide excellent dry and wet road handling performance in cold weather,
and will trade off snow and ice handling in order to get that.
Pirelli Scorpion WinterPirelli Scorpion Winter
They’re one of two items o ered at TireRack, so it’s obvious one of these
Pirelli Scorpion Winter tires models will take the crown as best rated. While
these are considered the best in the segment for being generally better
than their ice and snow counterparts.
Pirelli Scorpion Ice & Snow
SNOWCROSS SNOW SNOW ICE ICE
LAP TIME, ACCELERATION, BRAKING, ACCELERATION, BRAKING,
sec 3–18 mph, sec 18–3 3–16 mph, sec 16–3
mph, ft mph, ft
Bridgestone 30.15 3.48 33.333.3 7.34 37.8
Continental 29.52 3.46 34.5 7.28 38.2
Dunlop 29.74 3.55 33.8 8.31 39.1
Michelin 29.73 3.41 33.5 7.19 36.3
Nokian 29.4329.43 3.403.40 33.333.3 7.027.02 36.036.0
Yokohama 31.17 3.53 34.7 8.00 38.9