Performance all-season vs. winter tires

Hello all,

I am looking at consumer reports reviews of performance all-season tires and winter tires. I notice that many performance all-season tires are rates just as good as some winter tires are in the snow. This seems counter-intuitive. What do you think?

Consumer Reports snow testing is very poor. Its only acceleration to 20MPH and deceleration on ice. They do not test lateral traction and likely don’t perform the tests at low temps where winter tires shine and all-seasons fall on their face.

That being all said some all-seasons inc performance are significantly better than their peers in winter. I have owned two sets of pure winters, a few sets of Nokian WR’s (only winter severe service rated all-season), and now ultra-high performance tires(Bridgestone RE960) that are okay in the snow and very good at stopping in snow/ice. Winter tires reign superior however you may not have the need for it.

All tires are not equal. There are wide variances in all kinds of tires. I’ll bet that some tread designs were used simply because they looked good to the engineer. Your choice of tires may also be based on how your car handles in snow. My 85 Escort was good on snow and ice. My bald tires had great traction for taking off but needed better braking. I put new all season tires on it and the braking was better. The 87 Tempo was helpless in snow until I put some great Snow Kings on the front. Then I learned to slow down before turning, not while turning. Your car has a lot to say about which tires will work.

If you need snow tyres, get snow (winter) tires. There are compromises that must be made when designing tyres for different uses.

The problem with high performance all season tires is the “all season” part. They are better than high performance summer tires (which are hopeless in snow and ice), but nowhere near as good as dedicated winter tires. The “high performance” part has nothing to do with their performance in snow and ice. Look for the Bridgestone Blizzak or comparable models from other manufacturers. It’s best to buy an extra set of cheap wheels for your winter tires. Then, you just have to switch wheels instead of demount and remount tires twice a year.

Check consumer reviews on the and websites.

Tires vary widely. Even size differences among the same tire can cause differences in winter performance. Some all season tires are better in snow than some snow tires. On the same vehicle I’ve had snow tires that were garbage and all-season tires that were great. There is simply no one “right” answer when it comes to tires.

With the kind of speed limits we have here, the focus has to be on winter tires during the winter. Switch to “performance” tires when spring arrives, if you wish. I bought Michelin X-ICE winter tires; they have good wet/dry grip and are really good in snow. The regular tires are Michelin all season which we will put back on next April.

If you ask CU they will tell you that the comparisons are only within class. The ratings are not valid comparing between all-season and winter. In other words, even the best apple makes a poor orange.

Thanks everyone for your replies - I hadn’t thought of asking CU! I will do so.

I’m in the process of buying a set of winter tires right now. I spent a great deal of time pouring over various ratings charts, customer reviews and so on. You can find tire sites that have a consistent rating chart across all types of tires. There you will see that dedicated winter tires do indeed have better snow and ice traction. What I have been wrestling with is the tradeoff in dry performance and wear. I think I am going to opt for the true winter tires (Blizzaks pre mounted on steel wheels) because I can live without aggressive driving performance and will swap them out as soon as the threat of snow and ice subsides in spring to maximize their life. Another concern I have is for road noise from the tires. The Blizzaks were rated slightly better than their competition in this regard (on the sites I reviewed).

Blizzaks do have very good traction. Unfortunately, they also wear out their tread faster than much of the competition.

For a combination of excellent snow/ice traction AND excellent wear characteristics, I recommend the Michelin X-Ice tire. These tires are also fairly quiet on dry roads and they handle quite well on dry roads. As with all winter tires, they should be de-mounted as soon as the threat of winter weather is over.

I found a few sites that rate the Blizzak WS-60 (4.3) better then the X-Ice (4.0) in treadwear. Here’s one- I don’t think the page will load properly based on the link and it was a search for winter tires for a 2003 Camry LE. Have you owned both? I’d put more weight on personal experience over these tire store ratings so I’m interested in your assessment.

I’m going to say that the testing may be valid for the limited testing they did. Only time I ever NEEDE snow tires was when I drive in upstate NY…or the mountains in NH and VT. Here in Southern NH…snow tires are NOT needed. Any good all-season tires get around fine in the amount of snow we get. They do just as well as snow-tires do. So unless they did their testing in Upstate NY or Mountain regions…I can understand their results.

I found the pre-cursor to Blizzack WS-60 which is the Blizzack WS-50 to be absolutely incredible in winter conditions of snow and ice on a low slung 95 Civic coupe. I had no issue travelling in the unplowed passing lane(8" fluff powder) of Route 89N to the ski slopes. I found myself making up steep poorly plowed roads and around SUV’s.

However those Blizzacks were absolutely terrible in the rain(most of my Seacoast NH winter) where junky performance all-seasons were superior. They also felt squirmy around tight curves even at the posted speed limit.

The Blizzacks were my first/last set of purchased pure winter tires since I really only needed them(found true benefits) about 5-10 days per year. I only got 20k of use out them in winter conditions. Basically 3 winters for me at most 30 real uses.

These days I avoid poor winter weather by staying home or staying somewhere in lieu of risking it. That being all said winter tires are simply superior in lateral and braking traction vs all-seasons.

I’m in the same area so I’m very interested in your current tire choice.

I have a 4x4 for the real nasty stuff. This is primarily the wife’s car but I drive it occasionally, especially now with the gas prices so high. I have a 30 mile commute along the north shore. Ice is a bigger issue than snow.

My other choices were in the Performance Winter category; Michelin Pilot Alpin PA2, Goodyear UltraGrip GW-3.

A friend of mine had Blizzaks (I don’t know which “model” however) several years back, and he wore them out in 2 winter seasons, whereas my Michelin Arctic Alpin tires (the predecessor to the X-Ice) lasted for 5 winter seasons of essentially the same number of miles per season that my friend drove.

The X-Ice is, IIRC, rated better than the Arctic Alpin. However, it is possible that the newer Blizzaks do have better wear characteristics than the older ones–which were terrible!

Agreed. Any Japanese tires tend to wear out faster than others, and it gets worse if your vehicle weighs more than about 1500kg. You get better grip when the tire is cold which is their explanation though it seems that they just don`t like to make tires last.

depends on the car, too. i’ve have never bothered with snow tires for my subaru here in w maine. on the other hand, i had them (w studs) for my toyota 4r out of necessity. i don’t think traditional 4 wheel drive works very well for the most common snow conditions or any amount of ice.

The choice to buy good winter tires is like buying insurance. There is no one “right” answer.

Even if you live in an area that gets little snow, it’s possible that in the one snowstorm you get a year that having four aggressive winter tires will be the difference between your car stopping or not when a child sledrides out into the street in front of you. Possible but maybe not probable.

By investing in four aggressive winter tires, you’re helping your odds in all the winter scenarios that “may happen”, (like being able to get to the doctors in a snowstorm when your kid is sick, to being able to get to the ski areas in a storm, to stopping your car to avoid an accident, to being able to get home after work on snow covered roads).

I’ve been using four aggressive snows on all our family cars for the past 20 years. I learned long ago that even if those snow tires help to avoid one minor fender-bender, they’ve more than paid for themselves.