Snow tires can reduce the odds of an accident, improve efficiency, and give you superior traction in winter weather conditions.
The best tires for snow are the Michelin CrossClimate2, Bridgestone Blizzak WS90, Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9, Michelin X-Ice, Dunlop Winter Maxx WM02, Pirelli P Zero Winter, Cooper Discoverer True North, Continental VikingContact 7, Gladiator X Comp MT, and the Toyo Open Country WLT1.
In this article, we'll cover ten of the best snow tires for cars, trucks, SUVs, and Jeeps. Additionally, we'll go over studded snow tires and what makes winter tires different from summer tires.
We sourced the technical specifications of each tire directly from its manufacturer to ensure accuracy.
How are Snow Tires Different?
Snow tires are different from standard summer tires and all-season tires in a few key ways. One of the most significant differences is the composition of the rubber. Snow tires are made of a special rubber blend that’s designed for cold temperatures.
Snow Tire Rubber Composition
But why does the rubber matter? Aren’t snow tires just regular tires with better tread? No—regular tires use rubber that gets hard when cold, and hard tires decrease traction. Snow tire rubber stays pliable and doesn’t harden when it gets cold.
Additionally, snow tires don’t have aggressive tread like mud tires. Mud tires are notoriously bad on snow and ice, except in situations where the snow is deep or slushy. Off-road tires aren’t recommended for snow because their rubber composition usually isn’t soft enough.
Snow Tire Tread
Snow tire tread is also different and designed for snow and ice. Snow tires have a deeper tread than summer tires and more aggressive edges for digging out of the snow.
Deeper tread also makes snow tires ideal for slushy conditions, where regular summer tires perform particularly badly. Slush is nightmare snow—it usually comes with ice, it’s messy, and it’s way more slippery than fresh powder.
Snow tires have sharper tread than summer tires. This is useful on packed snow, as the tread punches holes in the harder packed snow and provides traction. This can decrease stopping distances and increase traction at acceleration.
How Bad are Summer Tires in the Snow?
Summer tires are very bad in the snow. Not only for the reasons we listed above. Summer tires are designed for dry highways without dirt or salt and only handle marginally well on wet pavement.
Snowy conditions, which are slippery enough, also include ice—on which hard summer tires are practically useless. Highway tires don’t have deep enough tread for slush, and the tread isn’t aggressive enough for packed snow.
Studded Snow Tires
Studded snow tires are some of the best tires for winter weather conditions. Studded tires have steel nubs embedded in the tread, which use the weight of the car to break up ice and improve traction. But studded tires do have some downsides.
Have you ever heard a car with studded tires coming down the road when it’s dry? You probably have—and that whirring noise is the sound of deteriorating pavement.
Many states, especially in the central and coastal parts of the country, ban the use of studded tires during the summer due to the damage they cause to the road. Other states, like Wyoming, allow their use year-round because of unpredictable conditions and long winters.
Best Snow Tires for Cars and Trucks
So, what snow tires are the best on the market? We considered customer reviews and tire specifications and found ten of the best winter snow tires for cars and trucks. Here are our top picks.
1. Michelin CrossClimate2 Snow Tires
The first thing you’ll notice about Michelin CrossClimate2 is its aggressive triangular tread. This is a great sign that it’s a snow tire and a fantastic way to design high-traction winter tires. These tires retail for about $160 each and come with a 60,000-mile warranty.
2. Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 Snow Tires
The Bridgestone Blizzak is a well-known snow tire series, and it performs well in deep snow and in winter conditions. This tire is large and has aggressive tread, but it doesn’t have studs.
This tire is rated for severe snow service, which is why it’s a touch pricier than similar models. It costs just shy of $200 per tire at most locations.
3. Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9 Snow Tires
But what if you’re looking for an aggressive studded snow tire? The Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9 should fit the bill, and it’s a premium tire for winter weather conditions.
The tire has deep tread and grippy edges, which are ideal for busting through packed snow. Additionally, it’s studded, which breaks up ice and provides superior traction.
4. Michelin X-Ice Snow Tires
The Michelin X-Ice Snow tire series is one of the best and most popular non-studded snow tires around. It features a relatively shallow tread design, but the rubber composition is excellent. These tires are designed for cars and function well in both wet and dry conditions.
5. Dunlop Winter Maxx WM02 Snow Tires
The Dunlop Winter Maxx WM02 snow tires are extremely efficient on snow and provide superior traction in slippery weather. The tread is carefully cut and edged with abrasive material.
The tire tread material acts like a snow sock in slush and packed snow. They also feature slightly rounded edges, which increase the useful surface area of the tire when it sinks into deeper snow.
6. Pirelli P Zero Winter Snow Tires
Pirelli takes a different approach to non-studded winter tire design. The company, which is known for producing well-designed and high-quality tires, offers a fantastic snow tire called the P Zero Winter. This tire has brick-pattern tread and soft rubber for superior snow and ice traction.
These performance tires also work very well in dry conditions, so you’re not compromising when the weather is clear. These tires are an excellent option for sports cars and performance vehicles.
7. Cooper Discoverer True North Snow Tires
Cooper Discoverer True North snow tires are similar in design to Dunlop Winter Maxx tires, and the non-studded tread provides excellent traction on snow, ice, and slush.
These tires are a bit less aggressive on the edges, but their deep tread performs very well in packed snow. The rubber composition is designed for winter and retains its softness even in the coldest conditions.
8. Continental VikingContact 7
These snow tires feature the perfect combination of rough tread for traction and a wide design for surface area. These Continental VikingContact 7 tires feature a diamond tread pattern with cuts along the surface, which help retain grip even in wet and icy conditions.
Additionally, the Continental VikingContact 7 tire rubber compound is excellent and utilizes a natural canola oil additive to stay soft in cold weather. Overall, these are some of the best and least ecologically harmful snow tires around.
9. Gladiator X Comp MT Tires
Here’s a set of mud tires that also work exceptionally well in the snow. The Gladiator X Comp MT are aggressive mud terrain tires for trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs, and they have some of the deepest tread on the market.
Though not designed specifically for winter, they are excellent at digging into deep snow and pushing your truck along. Their performance on ice is not quite so good, but they can help you get through slush and mud from snowmelt.
10. Toyo Open Country WLT1 Winter Tires
Toyo, another well-known producer of quality tires, now sells the studless Open Country WLT1 which is certified for use in severe winter weather. You can tell it’s rated for snow due to the snowflake symbol on the side, which denotes its purpose as a true studless winter tire.
The Toyo Open Country WLT1 uses a balanced rubber blend for cold weather pliability, and a louvered tread surface for good grip on packed snow. They offer excellent traction on wet and dry surfaces, and even improved grip on slush and ice.
About THE AUTHOR
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding