If you live in an area that experiences winter, you need winter tires for maximum traction and safety during extremely low temperatures below 45°F (7°C).

You have your all-season tires, and you are wondering, “Do I need winter tires?” The answer is “Yes.” Winter tires are designed specifically to withstand the harsh winter conditions like snow and ice that make the roads very slippery. The tire has a specific tread compound designed to run at freezing temperatures below 70C on ice, snow, rain, and dry surfaces. This article will give you a comprehensive guide on why you need to change into winter tires during winter, taking into account your comfort, safety, and traction on the road.

Most people believe that their all-season tires will serve them well, even during winter. However, all-season tires vary in tread depth and pattern compared to winter tires. You need a complete set of winter tires designed to perform in cold temperatures, and they are available for trucks, cars, and SUVs.

This article will look at the composition of winter tires and what makes them an excellent choice for use during the winter. We will look at their design and why they have a better grip on slippery roads than the all-season tires. We’ve done a thorough research of winter tires from top manufacturers of tires such as Michelin, Pirelli, and Bridgestone, among others. We will guide you on maintaining your winter tires which may involve checking their pressure more regularly than your all-season tires.  

Winter Tires - A Complete Guide

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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What are Winter Tires?

Winter tires are specially designed tires that are made to withstand low temperatures when the roads are slippery. They can also be referred to as snow tires, and they are primarily studless; that is, they do not have metal studs stuck on their treads. There are also the studded winter tires which have metal studs attached to their treads. Winter tires can be used effectively even on dry surfaces as long as temperatures are below 70C. They are also safer to drive on when it’s raining compared to summer tires.

What are the Special Features of Winter Tires?

Your all-season tires can get you through light winter and moderate wet roads. However, during extremely harsh winter conditions where temperatures are freezing and ice forming on roads, only winter tires can take you through the streets. Winter tires are designed with unique features that give them a good grip on the road during winter.

1. Tread Rubber

Winter tires are made with a higher natural rubber content that gives them a softer structure. It allows them to remain flexible and have a better grip on the road. These components make winter tires a poor choice during summer as they become even softer and wear down faster on warm, dry roads. On the other hand, all-season tires do not become flexible in freezing temperatures; thus cannot offer sufficient traction on the road.

2. Tread Depth and Patterns

Winter tires have unique tread patterns and deeper tread depths. The tread patterns slush and expel water and also channel the snow when driving. The deeper tread depths provide better traction on the snow while reducing the snow buildup.

The deep tread patterns provide space for snow to stick to the tires. Strangely, only snow can grip with snow; thus, this is the only way that the tires have traction on the surfaces.

3. Biting Edges

Winter tires have an increased number of biting edges in the form of a thousand tiny slits in the tread that improve traction on icy roads. Winter tires have more sipes than all-season tires giving them more biting edges. The siping is designed to enhance grip on slippery surfaces on ice, rain, and snow.

 The advantage of tire siping on winter tires is that it offers more flexibility due to more tread squirm, which reduces the vehicles’ handling ability. A balance of tread compound and siping allows a good winter tire to excel in snow, rain, and ice.

The edges of a winter tire are designed to vibrate as they move, which helps them shake any snow they might have picked up. Summer tires become completely smooth with snow and ice that clogs their edges making them ineffective.

What Is the Difference Between Winter Tires, Summer Tires, and All-Season Tires?

All-season tires are preferable for countries with moderate temperatures throughout the year. The tires combine elements of both summer and winter that give a good grip during both conditions. They do not become rigid and stiff in very low temperatures. Just like winter tires, their treads are made up of a lot of sipes. All-season tires feature the M+S sign meaning they can perform well in mud and snow.

Summer tires have a more streamlined tread pattern than winter tires. It maximizes contact with the road, and the grooves for water clearance are fewer. The tires provide excellent grip and handling in warm conditions for both dry and wet surfaces. Additionally, the tires offer maximum fuel efficiency as they have decreased rolling resistance, making them produce less noise on the road. These features of the summer tires are what make them unsuitable for winter. The tire’s rubber compound becomes hard and brittle in low temperatures, and its tread design cannot handle ice or snow.

Winter tires are specially designed to withstand snow and ice by providing an outstanding grip on the roads. The natural rubber that makes up the tires prevents them from becoming stiff in low temperatures.

Below is a quick overview of these differences.

All-season Summer Tires Winter Tires
Best performance Temperatures below and above 70C Temperatures above 70C Temperatures below 70C
Weather conditions mild winter weather, heavy rain, slush, light snow Mild wet weather, Warm and dry conditions harsh winter weather, ice, snow
Tread patterns Traction edges, slotted shoulders, and sipes Streamlined tread pattern, no sipes Open, unidirectional tread design, with v-grooves and sipes

Why You Cannot Use Winter Tires During Summer

Winter tires are likely to wear out faster during summer due to the warm temperatures. The natural rubber that makes up the winter tires is too soft for dry asphalt. Furthermore, the tires produce more noise and cause higher fuel consumption due to the increased rolling resistance they experience in this weather condition. They will also not perform the way you want them to due to their unique features, which might compromise the vehicle’s handling and, ultimately, your safety on the road.

Why You Cannot Use Summer Tires During Winter

The soft rubber on summer tires hardens during low temperatures, making it hard to get a good grip on the road. Consequently, these temperatures can cause the tread compound rubber to crack. You may find yourself taking care of the replacement cost of your summer tires when they are destroyed because of using them during winter since tire companies consider this improper use and is not covered under warranty.

Even when roads do not have snow or ice, summer tires do not have good traction on the road as long as the temperatures are low. Stopping distances are extended drastically, and cornering performance is significantly weakened.

When Do You Change from Your All-season Tires to Winter Tires?

When you need to change to winter tires, it all depends on where you live and how extreme weather conditions can get. You can keep your all-season tires if you live in an area that experiences only a few snow flurries and the temperatures do not drop to a freezing level. However, if the opposite is true, you need to change into winter tires as soon as the season kicks in for maximum traction and safety on the road.

You are advised to switch to your winter tires when temperatures go below 450 F. All-season tires become stiffer in extremely low temperatures that will give you a more challenging time breaking due to less traction. Do not also wait for the first heatwave to remove your winter tires, as this might cause premature wear and tear.

Always install the complete set of tires when mounting the winter tires. Do not just change the front tires since this will likely cause the rear tires to skid. Additionally, only changing the rear wheels will make it impossible to steer your vehicle since the front tires will lose grip.

Do I Need Winter Tires When I Have Off-Road Tires?

You may notice your off-road tires bearing the mountain snowflake logo, indicating that they can be used during winter. However, they are not fully optimized to handle the snow, and the tires are not made of the soft rubber of the winter tires. Therefore, they may not perform as well as the winter tires in the snow.

What are Studded Winter Tires

These are winter tires that are embedded with metal studs in their tire treads. This additional feature for these types of tires provides extra traction as they dig into the ice. However, these tires can damage the roads by digging into surfaces when they are not covered with ice. Besides, they are known for their noisy rides. Some countries had prohibited their use when improvements were made for studless winter tires to handle the extreme winter conditions.

Are Studded Tires Better Than Studless Winter Tires?

Improvement in technology has almost eliminated the need for studded tires. Although studded tires work better on icy roads, winter tires are equally as good. Studded tires are preferable for use on secondary roads, mostly in rural areas where the streets are covered more in snow and ice.

You can get studded tires if you often drive on snowy and poorly maintained roads. They will give you better handling in harsh conditions as they ensure considerably shorter braking distances. The studs dig in like miniature anchors when they penetrate frozen snow. Studded tires provide the combined advantage of the winter tire features and studs digging into ice, improving traction and vehicle control responsiveness.

Factory or Retailer Studded?

Studs can be installed by either the manufacturer or distributor of tires. However, studs installed by the manufacturer are of superior quality. They are more durable, perform better and make less noise.

Some people will prefer studs installed by a retailer because they are cheaper. The disadvantage is that they are less durable and produce more noise since they have a more significant impact on the surface. You can choose to purchase the standard winter tires and have the studs fixed later if you are on a tight budget.

How Often Do I Need To Check Pressure for Winter Tires?

Although winter tires are designed to withstand low temperatures, they lose more pressure due to those weather conditions. Therefore, it is essential to have a pressure gauge to regularly check the pressure as the cold weather causes the tires to lose pressure more quickly than average temperatures. You can also invest in a good tire inflator that will help you to inflate your tires during this period.

You should check your tires once a week and ensure that you keep them within a PSI of 30 to 35. You will always lose 1 PSI with each drop of temperature below 60C, which will compromise your traction. The loss of pressure is because air contracts when it’s cold and takes less volume in your tire translated as a drop in PSI by your TPMS. Even with all-season tires, you are always required to check the pressure of your tires.

What PSI Should I Inflate My Tires To?

Inflate your tires to the recommended PSI. You can get this reading from a sticker attached on the inside of the glove box door, inside the driver’s door, or in the owner’s manual. Do not use the figures printed on the tire sidewall, which is usually much higher than recommended PSI since it may result in overinflation.

How Long Can I Drive With Low Pressure?

You need to inflate your tires as soon as they lose pressure. Driving with under-inflated tires will cause them to wear out more quickly and unevenly—tires with a low-pressure compromise handling and braking. Consequently, your vehicle consumes more fuel than necessary.

Should I Over Inflate My Tires Since They Will Lose Pressure More Quickly?

Under no circumstances should you overinflate your tires. Overinflated tires cause them to lose grip on the road and eventually become less durable. Always inflate your tires with the recommended PSI, as it will perform better under those circumstances.

What Speed Can I Drive With My Winter Tires?

You can drive at your normal speed when using your winter tires. Contrary to the common belief that you need to drive slowly with winter tires, you can drive within your average rate.  

With all-season tires, you need to drive slowly during winter because you have less grip, and your chances of sliding are higher. With winter tires, you have more traction; thus, you are safe when you drive at your normal speed on top of snow and ice.

Why Do Tire Sizes Get Smaller For Winter Tires?

Narrower winter tires are more effective than wide tires since they are best suited for optimum conditions when driving your vehicle at a more incredible speed. Narrower tires have an easier time ploughing through deep snow than wide tires, which have to dig through a wide path in the snow. They also provide deeper traction on the road.

The narrower tires should maintain your original vehicle’s tire sizes so that your car can accommodate the smaller-diameter rims. The geometry of your vehicle’s suspension and braking systems could cause it not to accommodate smaller-diameter rims and refuse to accommodate the narrower tires. Therefore, you are advised to consult the experts when deciding on the size of winter tires you would like to purchase.  

How to Select the Correct Size for My Winter Tires

You can select winter tires based on your vehicle’s original tire size. It is more advantageous to choose winter tires based on this size as they will offer you more traction in cold temperatures.

You can use your vehicle’s base model to select a size for your winter tires. It is easier with only a slight dimensional difference that will also increase your vehicle’s wintertime traction.

You can also apply the minus sizing technique, which works in reverse for the traditional plus-sizing methods. It works by combining smaller diameter wheels with taller profile tires.

The minus size and base model technique provides you with a cheaper package and enhances deep snow traction that maintains your vehicle’s original size tires.

How Do I Store Winter Tires

It is essential to properly store your tires to be used when you need the change. Not keeping them properly can reduce their life cycle and make them unusable. You can put your winter tires away when temperatures consistently read above 450 F. Here are some tips for storing your winter tires when they are not in use.

  • You need first to clean your tires before you can store them. The tires can get damaged when you keep them with gunk and grime.
  • Do not store your tires outside, even if they are shielded with a protective cover. Always keep them in a cool, dry, and a dark room.
  • The storage room should not have a heat source and should have an average room temperature.
  • Protect the physical components of the tires by preventing them from being in direct contact with direct sunlight.
  • Keep your tires away from items such as fuels, solvents, lubricant chemicals, or any similar liquids.
  • Prevent the tires from cracking by storing them away from external tension or pressure.
  • You can wrap the tires with storage bags to protect them from the naturally occurring ozone in the air, which may cause them to dry out and crack.
  • Keep your stored tires from any motorized devices which can produce ozone.
  • You are advised to hang tires when you store them with rims. However, if you pile them, you will need to reconfigure the pile every four weeks.
  • Do not hang or pile tires without rims under any circumstances. Always store them on racks off the floor and rotate them every four weeks.

Where Do I Store My Winter Tires?

You can store your tires yourself if you have enough space, probably in your garage. However, if you live in small spaces such as apartments, you can seek the services of a dealership shop to store your tires. The shops will do all the heavy lifting for you, removing and installing a new set of tires until the following season.

How Long Does Winter Tires Last In Storage?

Not using the tires will not make them last forever. However, treating your tires properly by cleaning them and storing them in a cool, dry environment will help them serve you for at least 6 to 10 years. Keeping your tires in a vertical upright position will also help them serve you longer. When it is time to mount them again, inspect the tread, inflate them to the recommended PSI, and check for any cracks. If they are cracked, you are advised to purchase new ones.

How Much Do Winter Tires Cost?

A good set of winter tires will cost you between $400 and $800. You can check several websites such as Consumer Reports, Tire Rack, and Discount Tire for prices and performance when deciding which winter tires to purchase.

Will My Car Consume More Fuel With Winter Tires?

Your vehicle is likely to consume more fuel when installed with winter tires because of increased grip and traction. Always ensure that your tires are correctly inflated since under-inflated tires will consume more gas.

How to Get the Best Winter Tire Prices

There are several places where you can buy winter tires. You can window shop in stores around you and compare prices to get the best deals. Like other items, winter tires can go on sale; therefore, look out for deals and sales from your local tire shops.

There are also online retailers like Tire Rack, Discount Tire Direct, Goodyear, Amazon.com, NTB, and Walmart that have good deals for tires. You can check out their websites and get more information on what you are looking for in terms of brands and discounted prices for the tires.

You can choose to buy the tires during the off-season in spring and summer and get clearance sales on the previous year’s stock. Remember to check the tire’s reviews and ratings even though the price is important.

Make sure to buy quality tires and get value for your money. You can purchase cheap tires which may wear out faster, and you end up spending more than if you had considered quality in the first place.

Why Buy Tires Online?

You can choose to purchase tires online for various reasons:

  • Price

A majority of people make purchase decisions based on price. It is easier to compare the prices of items online than checking out the stores physically.

  • Selection

Online retailers offer a more comprehensive selection of brands than physical stores

  • Customer Service

Online retailers offer more support in terms of customer services. Most of your queries can be answered through the FAQs, there is an online chat option where your messages can be answered instantly, and you can even call customer care support during their business hours.

  • Fast Shipping

You do not have to wait for days before your tires can be delivered. Most online retailers have a short delivery cycle, and you can have your tires sooner than you expected.

  • Excellent Information

Online retailers have a wide array of information on their websites. You can get information on suggested replacement for the model of your car, reviews from people who have used particular tires, and all the brands of winter tires available. Such information is crucial to help you decide on what type of winter tires you need to purchase.

What Tools Do You Need To Change Winter Tires?

You can seek professional help from automotive garages when changing to your winter tools, or you can do it yourself. If you decide on the latter, you need the following tools when doing the change:

  • Safety stands
  • Service jack
  • Breaker bar
  • Lug wrench
  • A tire inflator

What are The Steps of Changing a Tire?

You can always change tires by yourself that can save you a few dollars. It is much cheaper to learn to do it yourself since you will often change the tires twice a year and even change a flat tire. Below are the steps of changing a tire:

  • Park your vehicle on level ground and activate the parking brake. If you start by changing the front right wheel, apply wheel wedges to the opposite left rear wheel to avert the car from rolling when it’s up on the jack.
  • Loosen the lug nuts using a lug wrench or a breaker bar before jacking up your car. Do not altogether remove the nuts.
  • Get your jack into position onto the metal lip under the car’s steel frame making sure that it does not lean to either side. You can check your vehicle’s manual to see this position.
  • Slowly crank the jack to raise the vehicle off the ground just enough to get the wheel off the ground.
  • You can now remove the lug nuts entirely using your lug wrench or hands since the nuts are loose.
  • You can now remove your tires and make sure to mark them with a chalk or mark pen for rotational purposes when installing them the following season.
  • You can only rotate the tires in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Directional tires can only be changed from front to back and vice versa, while symmetrical tires can be switched from side to side.
  • You can now mount the new wheel to the rim of your vehicle. Hold the tire in place by putting back the lug nuts and tighten them loosely since the car is still jacked up.
  • You can then remove the jack and fully tighten the nuts in a star pattern using your lug wrench.
  • Repeat the process for all four tires.
  • You now need to inflate the tires to the recommended PSI.
  • Changing one tire should take you about 15 to 30 minutes.

Should You Get Steel Rims For Your Winter Tires?

You should get an additional set of rims to use with your winter tires. You increase the risk of tearing the bead and distorting the sidewall every time you mount and unmount the tires onto a set of rims.

Steel rims will keep both your rims and tires in good condition for longer by reducing stress on the bead and sidewall. Consequently, the road salt used for melting ice and snow eats away aluminum rims, decreasing their structure, stability, and lifespan.  Therefore, it will save you more to have an additional set of steel rims.

Use of Tire Chains in Winter

States highly regulate tire chains due to the damage they cause on the road. They can only be used in places that are deemed necessary, such as steep mountainous areas. The chains are an added advantage to winter tires and studded tires in such sites due to the hazardous conditions.

You are expected to put tire chains on all four tires. However, you can set the chains on the front tires of front-wheel-drive vehicles. For rear-wheel-drive cars, you can put the chains on the rear axle. With the four-wheel-drive vehicles, you can check out from the manual which axle you can set the tire chain.

You obtain maximum grip and balance when you put chains on all four tires of your vehicle. The back of a car will likely respond impulsively during braking and driving when chains are only put on the front tires. On the other hand, the navigating capability of the vehicle is compromised when the chains are set only on the rear tires.

Tire chains are very easy to install on your tires. However, you are advised to drive at a very low speed when using them to avoid possible damage to your vehicle. Additionally, you cannot move on dry pavements with chains. It will not only damage the roads, but it can be a very uncomfortable drive.

How Long Do Winter Tires Last?

Properly storing and maintaining your winter tires can make them serve you for three to four seasons of superior winter traction. You can still use them afterward without the full benefits of winter tires. The actual life of your tires will depend on your driving conditions, mileage, and how you care for them. Winter tires will serve you longer when you only use them during cold weather, store them properly, follow a regular tire rotation schedule, wheel alignment, tire balancing, and maintain proper tire pressure.

When to Replace Winter Tires

Replace your winter tires when the tread depth has worn out below the acceptable level or when the sidewall gets damaged. The US legal minimum tire tread depth is 2/32”. You need to replace your winter tires when the bars show visible wear. Winter tires perform better with a tread depth of 4/32” to 6/32”.

Can I Replace Just One Winter Tire If The Other Three Tires Are Fine?

You cannot replace just one tire as it may cause your vehicle to spin unexpectedly due to more excellent traction on the new tire. You are advised to replace all four of your tires and not just one or two. You cannot also mix brands of tires to avoid compromising your vehicle’s performance and safety. Different brands have divergent tread sizes, patterns and are designed differently.

How to Buy the Best Winter Tires for Your Vehicle

There are several factors that you can consider when purchasing your winter tires.

  • Tires and Rims

A tire is made up of the tire, which is the rubber substance, and the rim, the metal structure where the tire wraps around. You can choose to buy the tires only and swap them into your original car’s rims, or you can buy tires that have their rims.

It is easier to change tires with their rims, although they are a bit more expensive than purchasing the rubber tires only. Additionally, if you want to use the TPMS system with your winter tires, you need to pay extra cash for the sensors to be aligned with the tires.

  • Shop Early

Do not wait for the winter so that you can purchase the winter tires. It would be best to shop early to have a wide selection to choose from and take advantage of discount sales.

  • Winter Tire’s Logo 

Look out for the mountain/snowflake logo on the winter tires when making the purchase. The tread depth of the tires needs to be 3.5mm for them to be used in winter.

  • Studded Tires

Studded tires are prohibited in some places because they cause damage to the roads. Ensure to check with your local legislation laws whether they are accepted or not before making the purchase.

Do I Need To Get My Wheels Alignment In The Winter?

It is a good idea to get your wheels checked for proper alignment after every change of summer to winter tires and vice versa. Wheel alignment is making sure that the axle and suspension system attached to the wheels match in angles and straightness.

Wheel alignment is affected by hitting potholes and bumps, driving on uneven surfaces, and gradual wear and tear of the tires. It is difficult to see potholes when the roads are covered with snow and ice; thus, your wheels may experience alignment issues throughout winter.

Some of the reasons as to why you can get your wheels aligned include:

  • Less Tire Stress

Proper wheel alignment distributes the weight of the car evenly and reduces stress on any particular tire. Winter tires have a softer rubber compound than summer tires; thus, they will wear out faster when the tires and suspension take on more stress in an inconsistent manner. Therefore, aligning your wheels will save you money and time on repairs.

  • Safer Driving

Your vehicle will perform poorly when the wheels are out of sync with the optimal specifications of your car. You can be guaranteed safety when driving when your wheels are correctly aligned.

  • Higher Efficiency

Your vehicle maximizes fuel efficiency when the wheels are appropriately aligned. You have a hard time steering when your wheels are not correctly aligned, making your engine consume more fuel. Your vehicle cannot move in a straight line when the wheels are not correctly aligned, making you change your speed more often, ultimately consuming more gas.

  • Fewer Repairs

A poor wheel alignment will destroy other parts of your vehicle since they are also affected by the tires and suspension.

Which are The Best Brands for Winter Tires?

You can consider purchasing winter tires from reputable tire brands since they have been tested and proven to be the best. You can also study the situation of the roads in your area when deciding on what to purchase.

Some of the popular brands of winter tires are:

  • Bridgestone Blizzak WS80

Blizzak WS80 is one of the most popular brands of winter tires in the market. The tire has unique features with a combination of lateral and circumferential grooves. These are designed to displace water and snow from the contact area. The tire has extra biting edges due to the 3D ZigZag sipes of the tires.

The tire is manufactured for use on sedans, compact cars, minivans, and coupes with other models that can also be used in SUVs. The tire has been manufactured using high technology of a next-generation compound that features microscopic bite particles and a water-loving hydrophilic coating.

The Blizzak WS80 is a very good tire that comes with a high price tag. However, the tire does not have any unique warranty coverage. Bridgestone also introduced the Blizzak WS90, increasing your options for winter tires.

  • Michelin X-Ice Xi3

Michelin X-Ice is another brand of winter tires that have been in the market for a long time. It is an excellent option and very effective in terms of acceleration, braking, and handling. The tire is an ideal fit for family vans, coupes, small crossovers, and sedans.

You maximize your vehicle’s fuel efficiency when using Michelin X-Ice due to its unique low progressive resistance structure feature. The tire is made with high technology that features an internal structure made of spirally twisted nylon and identical steel belts that guarantee great speed functioning.

A remarkable thing about the Michelin X-Ice is that it has a unique wear indicator that will notify you when ice and snow grip will be reduced.  Although the tire is expensive, it has a six-year tread life warranty and a one-year consistency warranty.

  • Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT

The Goodyear Ultra Grip tires are a famous brand that features a wide variety of sizes and vehicles. The tire is made up of two different types of sipes that provide additional biting edges for maximum traction on the road. One of the sipes is 2D, a surface-style sipe designed to improve braking distances. The other type is the 3D-styled sipe which locks together to enhance steadiness and grip.

What Are The Best Winter Tires For an SUV?

  • Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2

This Michelin winter tire tops the list for best winter tires for SUVs. The tire works excellently on ice, and you certainly won’t get stuck anywhere. It gives you superior control of your vehicle behind the steering wheel as slush and rain do not pose a problem for the tire. Furthermore, the tire has excellent traction and braking over packed and unpacked snow with exceptional hydroplaning resistance.

The other benefit of this tire is that the manufacturer provides you with a 40,000-mile treadwear warranty. Most brands of winter tires do not have warranty coverage. The tire also has good handling for dry surfaces. Although the tire is expensive, it has the best tread life of any winter tire for an SUV.

  • Yokohama iceGUARD G075

The tire has a specialized winter tread compound that makes it suitable for use in harsh winter conditions. Although the tire is budget-friendly, it provides very usable traction in ice-covered roads. The tire accelerates quickly both on packed and unpacked snow and stops with assurance.

The tire provides you with maximum fuel economy due to its low-rolling-resistance technology. The tire gives you ample traction for safe driving. Besides, its hydroplaning resistance is excellent and is impressive over slush and water. The disadvantage is that the tire is not the most responsive option for dry roads.

  • Bridgestone Blizzak WS90

The Blizzak WS90 is suitable for compact crossovers and SUVs such as Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Ford Escape. The tire accelerates quickly, breaks well, and gives you good cornering abilities. The tire has a perfect tread life for a winter tire and performs excellently in the rain. The disadvantage is that the manufacturer does not provide any treadwear warranty.

What Are The Best Studded Winter Tires For SUVs?

  • Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9 SUV

This tire is very reliable in extremely harsh winter conditions. One can accelerate quickly on light or very deep packed or unpacked snow. The tire’s stopping distances are very short, and it performs impressively well on ice. It offers ample traction for braking and accelerating even without the studs attached. The disadvantage with this tire is that it does not respond well on dry roads, and its grip is not very outstanding compared to other winter tires.

  • Firestone Winterforce 2 UV

The tire has an aggressive directional tread pattern that can bite into anything cold. This brand is relatively cheaper than other premium winter tires. You can handle corners easily and stop orderly with these tires.  The tire offers exceptional traction on ice when the studs are attached and performs very well in rainy conditions.

The disadvantage is that there is no coverage of warranty with the tire. Also, the ride quality is slightly bouncy on uneven roads, and it is noisy at higher speeds.

  • General AltiMAX Arctic 12

The AltiMAX Arctic 12 is impressive on snow-covered roads as it holds itself well in the corners, accelerates quickly, and stops on time. Even without the studs, the tire is good in ice traction. With the studs attached, the tire offers outstanding levels of handling, traction, and braking. The tire has an excellent hydroplaning resistance; thus, it works very well in the rain. The cons with the tire are that it has poor responsiveness on dry roads.

  • GT Radial IcePro SUV3 Studdable

This tire performs exceptionally well only when the studs are attached to the tire. Its tread compound is more focused on warm conditions; thus, it impresses wet and dry roads. The tire provides you with ample traction when it starts biting into snow and ice. Additionally, it has exceptional stopping distances on both dry and wet roads, and the handling is dynamic. The disadvantage with this tire is that it does not perform very well without the studs.

How Many People Use Winter Tires?

A majority of American people have not embraced the use of winter tires. A study conducted revealed that most people use their all-season tires during winter.

Do you mount winter tires on your car?
Yes, before snow falls 13.3%
All-season tires are fine 40%
Depends on the car 10%
It doesn’t snow here 36.7%

Reasons Why Some People Still Do Not Use Winter Tires

  • They believe their all-season tires can effectively handle the snow and ice
  • Some said they drive less often for them to need winter tires
  • Most people think they are costly
  •  Others said they rarely experience snow and ice in places they live
  • Others said it is an inconvenience to keep on changing tires

When Should I Put On Winter Tires In Alaska?

Alaska experiences the snow season from October to April. However, when exactly you should put on winter tires depends on where you are in Alaska. There is more snow in the northern areas because the temperatures are colder. People near the waters receive more snow due to the lake-effect snow. Therefore, you may figure to have winter tires from October to April as long as you are not in the far northern parts of Alaska. Additionally, where you live in Alaska will determine the type of winter tires you can purchase. You will be required to remove studded winter tires from your vehicle by the middle of April or latest, by the beginning of May.

Are There Any Motorcycle Snow Tires?

If you are a die-hard rider who cannot stop because the winter season is here, do not worry. You can ride safely by purchasing a set of motorcycle winter tires. Although they are not very common, there is the Anlas Winter Grip Plus. Regular motorcycle tires are optimized for warm temperatures, making them harder and less grippy during colder temperatures.

The winter tires are made of a tire compound designed for winter driving and not just when it’s snowy. Unlike the regular tires, the winter tires grip the pavement best when it’s cold and does not work well when it’s warm. The winter tires will overheat and lose grip during every day riding at average summer temperatures.

The tread design of winter tires is different from regular tires. The latter has few grooves cut into them to evacuate water, while winter tires have more profound and more minor grooves in the tread blocks designed to grip the snow better. The tires collect a thin layer of snow which helps them grasp the snowy surface of the road better.

What to Do When Stuck In Snow

The snow can be unpredictable. Even when driving with your winter tires, you can get stuck. Always ensure that you have a shovel in your car during winter. Not only can it help you, but you can be of help to others. Therefore, here is what you can do when you get stuck in the snow.

  • Turn off your vehicle’s traction control system on your dashboard before you turn on your car. Both drive wheels, that is, the anterior tires on a front-wheel-drive and the back tires on rear-wheel drive, AWD, and 4WD vehicles, will need to have traction for you to get unstuck.
  • It would be best to then clear a lane on all tires, beginning with the drive tires. Dig out snow from the front, below, and back, making a clear path for the wheels to move ahead and behind a few steps.
  • Use any tool available to break any ice that is formed underneath the tires. Remember also to dig out any snow that has blocked the exhaust pipe.
  • You can then ignite your car and make sure to watch out for your front wheel by looking out from your window. You will get maximum traction when you have straightened your wheel.
  • Give your vehicle a small amount of gas while braking simultaneously if your car didn’t move at all or a tire is gyrating. This should give some energy to that wheel and decrease the spinning. Ensure that you try this technique only for a few seconds since it can compromise braking because it overheats your brakes.
  • You can seek help from other motorists or people around you. Make sure to apply the gear that protects your helpers from getting hurt (If they're pushing your car from the back, use the forward gear only). Gently apply the gas as you ask those helping you to push when you are ready.
  • If you have tire chains and you are stuck, it is time to use them.
  • Try “rocking” your vehicle backwards to forward by applying the accelerative and rear gears if your car moves forward a little and then stops. When the car starts to move ahead out of reverse, give it a little gas.
  • This might give you sufficient power to drive out. However, be warned that this type of hasty change can burden your transmission. Try it only for a few intervals, or you may end up damaging your vehicle.
  • You can position an object on the ground to add grip that won’t harm your tires if you’re still spinning. Try sprinkling kitty litter or sand at the front of the drive tires (and at the rear if you’re thinking of reversing).
  • Never try to thaw out snow and ice by using antifreeze chemicals which can be toxic to pets, children, and wild animals. These chemicals ultimately find their way into waterways and storm drains, where they can be toxic to aquatic creatures.
  • The use of salt as a deicer can also be a bad idea for both the surroundings and your car since it is destructive to metal.
  • You can also get traction by laying plywood, cardboard, or even your car’s rugs on the ground ahead of the drive tires or even behind if you plan to start in reverse.
  • As the last option, you can let out some amount of air from your tires. Do this only if you have a tire inflator to put back the pressure or near a place you can inflate them back.
  • Underinflated tires will give the tires more contact with the surface, giving you enhanced grip until you are unstuck. However, do not drive with underinflated tires for a long distance since it will harm your tires.
  • Do not stop doing what you are doing when your vehicle starts accelerating. If you are in forwarding gear, drive safely to a place with less snow and then stop. If you are in reverse gear, continue for a few yards and gently release the gas.
  • Once you have moved from the snow where you were stuck, restart your traction control system if you had switched it off. Also, disengage your low-range 4WD if you have engaged it. Make sure that your radiator is receiving airflow to avoid engine overheating.
  • You can pull over and remove any snow that might have packed in your wheels with a shovel or a frost scraper if you feel tremor in your steering wheel.

Benefits of Winter Tires

By installing all four winter tires, you will have the following advantages when driving in icy conditions.

  • Excellent traction on the road
  • Enhanced braking and handling
  • Improved control
  • You drive more confidently
  • You can avoid accidents and associated injuries and fatalities
  • You are likely to make fewer insurance claims
  • Improved road safety

Winter Tire Safety Tips

  • You will have more control and stability of your vehicle when you install all the four winter tires
  • Avoid mixing tire sizes, brands, or styles
  • Properly check your tires for damages and worn treads
  • Always check and maintain your tire's recommended PSI as they tend to lose more pressure in low temperatures.

About THE AUTHOR

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

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.

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