10 Rules About Snow Tires

With today’s car repair prices and vehicle maintenance costs, do we have to buy snow tires too?

With all of today’s traction control and stability control systems, front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and four-wheel drive vehicles, it can be a bit confusing when trying to decide the value of snow tires – especially given rising car repair prices. Following is an easy-to-read break down of 10 rules to remember.

Rule 1: No matter what traction electronics a vehicle has, in the snow, it boils down to rubber-meets-the-road-traction. Our cars need to have good tread on our tires.

Rule 2: Traction comes from our tires gripping the road. No grip, no traction. Traction is important not just for stability, but steering, braking, and propulsion.

Rule 3: Some all-season tires are adequate in the snow, many are not. Various tires that are rated all-season have sport tire attributes, and are inadequate in the snow—even dangerous. SUVs with sport tires or DUBS run into this scenario often.

Rule 4: The best all-season tire is not better in the snow than a premium snow tire.

Rule 5: All season tires can stiffen in cold weather—stiff tires, less traction.

Rule 6: Snow tires really do make a noticeable difference.

Rule 7: Replace all four tires to maximize safety. Replacing only two encourages unequal traction, which leads to loss of control and spin out.

Rule 8: Snow tires will feel/ride differently, but nothing like the days of knobby, studded-snow tires. Tire technology has come a long way, and there are many snow tires on the market that ride beautifully.

Rule 9: Consider a rim and tire package. It makes swapping to your snow tires a breeze.

Rule 10: You don’t have to use snow tires. In a safe area, try driving on your regular tires in the snow. If you’re all over the road, get some snows. If your car feels fine, great. Save your money.

These comments are intended as a general guide. Refer to your owner’s manual for particular vehicle requirements.