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Do you really need snow tires?

Do you really need to change tires to snow tires in the winter or are all weather tires okay?

All weather tires are ok. Snow tires are nice, and will perform better in wintry conditions, but you do not need them by any means. It’s like asking “do I need a car with heated leather seats?” no you don’t, but it’s nice.

In Florida, All Season should be fine, just watch out on those days it does get ice or snow.

In Buffalo you need them.

It depends on how much driving your do, local weather, what car you have, and if you can just stay home when the weather is bad.

For some people it is a necessary in order to get around in the winter. However the majority of the continental US all-seasons that have some winter capability work okay on roads up to a point coupled to very careful driving. However all-seasons are near useless on untreated ice.

I will say if your vehicle has sporty low profile tires the need goes up considerably for winter tires. What car do you own?

Winter tires excel where best in winter all-seasons simply pale. If you like to be able to steer, brake well, and remain in control in any winter condition get winter tires.

I have owned multiple sets of winter tires but now simply wait out storms before venturing out with my all-seasons. I am lucky and can telecommute. If you wait out storms long enough all-seasons do okay.

Didn’t Canada pass a law requiring drivers to have winter tires on your vehicle?

Depends on where ya live. All road tires are a comprise. Winter tires are lees of comprise for the winter. I say go for safety, winter tires should be a necessity in my area. The Tire Rack has some convincing videos of winter vs. all seasons. You can wear sneakers in slush, but would you choose to?

Quebec did.

Getting snow tires is like getting insurance.

The chances of truly needing them may be low, but if a good set of four aggressive winter snow tires makes the difference between you stopping in time to avoid an accident or not, then they just paid for themselves (many times over).

My wife’s car has four good snows on it. When she’s driving home from work in the middle of a snow storm dressed in work clothes, the last thing she wants to do is get stuck. This only happens 2-3 times/winter, but for her (and me), it’s well worth it.

It really depends on where you live and what kind of car you drive.

If you have a rwd vehicle…I think their a must in any snow area.

If a fwd vehicle…then all-season tires are fine for 95% of the northern states.
If you live in Upstate NY or Upper Michigan or Mountain regions…then they are essencial

This begs the question, during the ERA of RWD on the road(70’s and earlier) did the majority people really use snow tires? Or did they simply learn to drive in the snow and limp about?

Here’s what we do:

Get a second set of rims and put snow tires on them. Put them on in the winter and take them off when it is over. It may cost a bit more than having your tires changed, but at $15-20 dollars a wheel for changing the tires, you will pay for the price of the rims in a couple of years.

A piece of advice, write on the inside of the tire what side it comes of of. Intermittently used tires are prone to tread seperation if the rotation of the tire is changed.

Unless you have a 4x4 or AWD, you should only have to put snow tires on the drive wheels.

Us old timers used snow tyres in the 70’s At least in my area. Today I would guess fewer people have winter tyres because the snow removal and salting makes them less necessary. I do still use winter tyres.

Of course the answer to your question will be greatly effected by where the responder is living.

I might add that back in the 70’s far fewer people when with snow tyres on all four wheels, they were lucky to have them on the drive wheels. I went with all four.

I have to agree with JoeMario, whose answer was the best, IMHO.

For those who have the option of always staying home when the weather is bad, the obvious answer is that you don’t need winter tires (the term “snow tires” is now archaic). For those who may have to leave the house during bad winter conditions, you can probably “get by” with so-called “all-season” tires.

However, as JoeMario pointed out, many of us may be many miles from home when it begins snowing. Some municipalities–especially given the cutbacks necessitated by the economy–may not be very quick or very effective in salting or plowing roads. Under those circumstances, the person who cheaped out will regret NOT getting good winter tires.

The most important reason for getting winter tires is one that seems to escape many people when they decide that all-season tires are “good enough”, and that reason is the ability to stop the car on snow or ice. Even with ABS, there will always be situations that you can encounter while driving on ice or snow where winter tires will make the difference between stopping in time or hitting a car/truck/person/animal/fence/ditch/tree/utility pole.

Trust me–after you hit something when your all-season tires didn’t allow you to stop in time, the price of a set of winter tires will seem mighty cheap, in comparison with the damage that was done.

“Unless you have a 4x4 or AWD, you should only have to put snow tires on the drive wheels”

I’m sorry, but that is BAD advice.

If this was 1970, that advice would be current and valid, but in the era of advanced design winter tires, you need to have those tires mounted on all four wheels. Otherwise, the traction differential between the driven wheels and the undriven wheels is sufficient to actually induce a skid.

Agreed. If you’re mounting winter tires you should put them on all four corners. You want equal traction at both ends of the vehicle.

You can get away with winter tires on your RWD however not recommended. On a FWD it makes for some fun lessons in the art stopping skids. Basically your front end stops much quicker in winter conditions and the rear comes around. FWD are really difficult to recover in these situations.

This begs the question, during the ERA of RWD on the road(70’s and earlier) did the majority people really use snow tires? Or did they simply learn to drive in the snow and limp about?

Most people I knew did. I worked at a gas station in high-school. October and November we’d put the snows on…and April and May we’d take them off.

The OP should also bear in mind that there is absolutely no winter traction standard (neither a govt. standard nor an industry standard) for so-called all-season tires.

In effect, a tire manufacturer can call any tire an all-season tire, with the result that some are acceptable in winter driving (although they will always be inferior in those conditions as compared to a genuine winter tire), and some will be essentially useless. I can tell you that the “all-season” Bridgestone Potenza RE-92 and 92-A are among the useless ones in winter conditions, and I am sure that they are not the only ones.

Winter tires bearing an icon on the sidewall that depicts a mountain peak and a snowflake, have met industry standards for improved winter traction for going, for cornering, and for stopping. Why gamble with your life, your car, and your finances, in the event of an accident? After the fact, you will wish that you had bought genuine winter tires, but unfortunately, car accidents don’t give us the chance for do-overs.

If spending a few hundred $$ on winter tires would potentially take food off of your table, then obviously you will need to forego those tires. But, if you can bear this cost–with the realization that it is good insurance against an accident–then I suggest that you buy 4 winter tires.

When I lived in Buffalo, NY, we always had snow tires mounted on their own rims for our RWD vehicles.

carquestions7, if you live north of the Mason-Dixon line, I think you should get winter tires.

Unless you have a 4x4 or AWD, you should only have to put snow tires on the drive wheels

I can think of a couple reasons to agree with VDCdriver that this is bad advice.

[list]With any vehicle, most of the braking is done in the front. If your vehicle is RWD and you only have winter tires in the rear, your stopping distance will drastically increase in low traction conditions.[/list]

[list]With any vehicle it is easier to regain control if you lose traction in the front. If you lose tracton in the rear, it is much harder to regain control. If your vehicle is FWD and you only have winter tires in the front, you will find it very difficult to steer out of a skid.[/list]

The folks who sell tire chains will tell you that you only need them on the drive tires. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this applies to modern winter tires too.

Check out the videos at http://www.betiresmart.ca/video/apa.asp?printversion=yes . In addition to showing the difference in performance with four winter tires, they also do one or two tests with only two winter tires.

carquestions7, if the conditions in which you drive are anything like the conditions of these tests in the video, you should get four winter tires.