round this time every year, my husband makes some sort of comment about snow tires. He usually brings it up when we’re talking about my concern for the road conditions.
We’ve never used snow tires before, but that doesn’t stop my husband from extolling their virtues. I, on the other hand, think all-season tires work just fine, provided they have good tread.
In this great and recurring snow tire versus all-season tire debate, I turn to Popular Mechanics for their tests and opinions.
What makes snow tires different than all-season tires?
The main differences between these tires are the composition of the rubber compound and depth and direction of the tread. Snow tires are made of a rubber that stays flexible in cold temperatures. The deep grooved tread is patterned in a single direction to cut through snow and slush, and many small cut variations help the tire grip slick surfaces.
All-season tires are composed of a harder rubber and have longer tread wear life. The tread is cut into channels to provide better grip on dry surfaces and prevent hydroplaning.
So what’s better?
It really depends on what you value. Do you want superior performance in snowy and icy conditions? Then Popular Mechanics’ tests prove that winter tires are the way to go. From braking and acceleration to handling and hill climbs, snow tires proved their worth over and over.
Or if you prefer the convenience of not swapping tires (and even wheels) every year, then all-season tires might be what you want to purchase. All-season tires performed well in less than ideal conditions, just not as well as snow tires.
What if I don’t live in a cold weather climate?
If snow is a foreign concept where you live, then summer tires, or three-season tires, are probably the choice for you. All-season tires are really a compromise, meaning they provide adequate performance in all seasons, not superior performance in a single season. Summer tires are a better choice if you never see snow.
If you need new tires, or are reassessing the rubber on your vehicle, it’s best that you do some in-depth research. There are a lot of tire options out there. Read reviews. Talk to specialists about what tires are best suited for your situation, because the right type of tires can really make your car excel on the road. Superior handling and performance can help ensure safe travels.