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Testing the Benefits of Winter Tires | Edmunds.com

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Posts: 10,059
edited December 2014 in General
imageTesting the Benefits of Winter Tires | Edmunds.com

All-season tires come on most every car sold in the United States, but how much can snow tires help those who live and drive in frigid winter weather?

Read the full story here


Comments

  • Well, I guess the universe is old enough for the impossible to have finally happened. Edmunds.com has finally lurched into a topic worthy of discussion.
  • Well, I guess the universe is old enough for the impossible to have finally happened. Edmunds.com has finally lurched into a topic worthy of discussion.

    They actually had done this test a long time ago, If I remember correctly. It was just re posted for the benefit of people during this winter season.
  • Living in Nebraska (I live up a hill), I go with two sets of tires and rims (summer and winter) on my two cars (Integra 99 and 2015 WRX)... For safety sake there is only one appropriate tire when the snowstorm hits whether you're driving a sedan, compact, SUV, CUV, sports car... It could be costly but if you buy winter tires at the end of the winter for example, you will get some good deals. And keep in mind it will never be as costly as a wreck.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited December 2014
    I did that in Anchorage years ago - better for the tires not to be swapping them on the rims twice a year. Still a pain swapping mounted tires back and forth.

    For my recent sojourn in the UP of Michigan, I used an "all weather" tire - Nokian WR G2s. They were exceptional on my Outback in the snow and helped my winter unfriendly FWD minivan in summer rains. The WR G3s sound even better.
  • gurds7gurds7 Posts: 15
    The problem is that even the best winter tires suffer from terrible dry and wet performance compared to a great all season tire, putting drivers in danger more of the time. Most drivers are on slushy, wet, or dry conditions 99% of the time as opposed to pure ice and covered snow roads. There are exceptions with certain climates that travel snow covered roads frequently, and that's where a winter tire is better. For all other cases, an excellent all season tire such as Michelin's PSAS3 is much better since it handles the cold well, grips like no tomorrow in the dry and wet, and will get you through some light snow when needed, you just have to take things slower. The small performance improvement snow tires give you is not worth it for the poor ride, increased noise, poor wear, high cost, and poor dry/wet traction you get with them unless you live in an extreme climate. I have been driving for nearly 20 years and have only had 1 accident. The time I had the accident was in wet conditions with a snow tire. I hit a very small piece of slush with wet roads going 10mph under the speed limit and spun around 4 or 5 times because the tires just couldn't grip in the wet. I have never used winter tires since, and instead run a summer tire and then switch to an all-season tire for winter. This combo is much more practical and affords you much better traction in the winter unless there is deep snow or ice, which only happens a few days a year here in Delaware.

    I also wish Edmunds would have tested a good all-season tire. The Pilot HX is almost phased out and is one of the worst overall all-season tires one can buy. It would have been nice to see a good all-season tire like the Continental DWS that handles snow incredibly well, but still performs well in the dry and wet.
  • bankerdannybankerdanny Posts: 1,021
    I agree that for this test picking a high quality A/S would have been worth while. My 2007 Forester came new with A/S tires (I forget the brand) and they were absolutely awful. I got my car in February and it snowed the next day, I slid all over the road. I ended up replacing them with only a few thousand miles on them. Not all all-season tires are equal. I put Conti Extreme Contact DWS's on my MkIV Jetta with 17" wheels and was very very happy with the performance inall conditions.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited December 2014
    @gurds7, this Consumer Reports article may be of interest. The problem with Nokians is finding them. They aren't cheap either.
  • actualsizeactualsize Santa Ana, CaliforniaPosts: 451
    Yes, there are better all-season tires (and worse ones), but there are also better winter tires. This was not an attempt to categorize all possibilities. No matter how good your all-season tires feel there's always a winter tire out there that's better.

    Twitter: @Edmunds_Test

  • bankerdannybankerdanny Posts: 1,021
    Well then, there is the next article: standard OEM style A/S tires vs mid grade and high end vs mid level Winter. And after you test in the snow, take them somewhere that gets rain regularly (as much of the US does) and see if the A/S tires performance on wet and dry pavement is materially better than the Winter tire's.
  • gurds7 said:

    The problem is that even the best winter tires suffer from terrible dry and wet performance compared to a great all season tire, putting drivers in danger more of the time. Most drivers are on slushy, wet, or dry conditions 99% of the time as opposed to pure ice and covered snow roads. There are exceptions with certain climates that travel snow covered roads frequently, and that's where a winter tire is better. For all other cases, an excellent all season tire such as Michelin's PSAS3 is much better since it handles the cold well, grips like no tomorrow in the dry and wet, and will get you through some light snow when needed, you just have to take things slower. The small performance improvement snow tires give you is not worth it for the poor ride, increased noise, poor wear, high cost, and poor dry/wet traction you get with them unless you live in an extreme climate. I have been driving for nearly 20 years and have only had 1 accident. The time I had the accident was in wet conditions with a snow tire. I hit a very small piece of slush with wet roads going 10mph under the speed limit and spun around 4 or 5 times because the tires just couldn't grip in the wet. I have never used winter tires since, and instead run a summer tire and then switch to an all-season tire for winter. This combo is much more practical and affords you much better traction in the winter unless there is deep snow or ice, which only happens a few days a year here in Delaware.

    I also wish Edmunds would have tested a good all-season tire. The Pilot HX is almost phased out and is one of the worst overall all-season tires one can buy. It would have been nice to see a good all-season tire like the Continental DWS that handles snow incredibly well, but still performs well in the dry and wet.

    Actually I believe Edmunds tested tires in the rain and the summer tires totally outperformed the all seasons...
  • vrooomf1 said:

    Living in Nebraska (I live up a hill), I go with two sets of tires and rims (summer and winter) on my two cars (Integra 99 and 2015 WRX)... For safety sake there is only one appropriate tire when the snowstorm hits whether you're driving a sedan, compact, SUV, CUV, sports car... It could be costly but if you buy winter tires at the end of the winter for example, you will get some good deals. And keep in mind it will never be as costly as a wreck.

    I had Bridgestone Blizzaks a long time ago on my Integra in Mass. They were unbelievable in the snow, but they were just so loud, squishy and fast wearing when the roads were dry... Did not make sense in my state, maybe farther North...
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 128,281
    edited December 2014
    There are plenty of "performance" winter tires that are perfectly suited for normal dry road driving... (including the Michelins used in the test). My experience is that even "performance" winter tires will run rings around any all-season tire, in any sort of winter weather.

    I'm not sure why they felt the need to test their summer tires in the snow... I think everyone already knows that is a bad idea.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,092
    If full winter tires are desirable depending on someone's needs consider having them mounted on their own wheels to save wear and tear on them, as well as the expense of having tires mounted and balanced twice a year. TPMS systems can add a wrinkle to this that have to be considered, some cars are simple and will just learn the sensors on their own, others require a full scan tool to re-train the sensor digital ID's to the car.
  • The bottom line is how much snow and the type of vehicle. There is no one answer.
    Snow tires with studs or with out studs, Front wheel drive, Rear wheel drive. Are you a good drive or a less than good driver. to many variables for one answer.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,092
    kyfdx said:



    I'm not sure why they felt the need to test their summer tires in the snow... I think everyone already knows that is a bad idea.

    Or a wickedly fun one under the right circumstances.

  • I am a Subaru salesperson, and my customers are frequently surprised when I talk about the importance of winter tires. Too many people think AWD and 4WD = invincibility, but when it comes to stopping, it's ALL about the rubber!
  • My family is new to the Denver area, and we quickly discovered that A/S tires are no match for winter driving on the hills and curves that are indemic to the area. I recently switched to the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 on new rims with tpms monitors, and the difference on snowy roads was dramatic. For us, having decent traction and steering control in snowy conditions outweighs most or all of the "cons" mentioned above. Though I will drive more cautiously in wet or the occasional hot conditions, given some of the previous comments.
  • zandorzandor Posts: 67
    I live in Chicago and for me full on snow and ice tires are not worth it, but I do like performance winter tires. The really serious snow tires are lousy on dry and wet roads compared to all-season or performance winter. Squirmy, mediocre grip, etc. The Midwest is flat and a foot of snow or more in one go is a once in a couple years event so I don't think the trade off for max snow/ice performance is worth it. Good snow performance is nice though, and performance winter tires can provide that while offering dry and wet performance comparable to a passenger or touring type all-season tire. Some years ago I did have a use for them though. I had a rear wheel drive car and my parking spot was in an alley that never got plowed.

    The type of all-season tires you are comparing to is also important. Sports tires tend to be lousy in snow even if they are marketed as all-season, while passenger and touring all-season tires can be fairly decent.
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