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Snow Tires All Year?

My Toyota Matrix has always had poor traction on wet roads and is absolutely awful in the snow, even when the tires were brand new. I don’t know if it’s because the factory tires were lousy to begin with, or because the car is so lightweight, or both. I live in Baltimore, so should be able to get by with all season tires, but I want to be sure I don’t have this problem with the next set of tires. What is the downside of getting snow tires for the best traction and driving on them year round - just worse gas mileage or are there other issues? Or is it better to get the highest performance all season tires? Any recommendations? I tried looking at the reviews on TireRack, but its a bit overwhelming.

Biggest issue with winter tires is some don’t last a lot of miles. If you drive 10K miles per year you might be OK with winter tires all year long.

I have Yokohama Avid ENVigor tires on my Accord, and they work well all year long near Baltimore. We also have Yokohama Avid Touring S tires on our Silhouette and Regal. Those work well, too. I don’t think you need snow tires in Baltimore. How many days of snow on the ground do you think we will have this year? More than 7? We will have more icy days, and I don’t think snow tires will help with ice.

What size are your tires? Some of these super-low profile tires are worthless in snow or wet conditions…

True winter tires fare poorly in summer driving conditions. They tend to wear fast, run hot and have poor dry road handling characteristics…

Snow tires don’t give the best traction on dry pavement because there is actually less rubber on the road. In fact, on dry pavement, no tread at all is better because you have more rubber on the road. The aggressive tread on snow tires is there to throw the snow off the tire. Snow tires are great in the snow and if winter driving is a real problem, I would have 4 snow tires mounted on separate rims so that you can put them on in late fall and take them off in the spring.
The automobile manufacturers don’t always put on the best quality tires. We have a 2011 Toyota Sienna and the factory tires which are Firestone are down to 3/32" all the way around and I only have 35,000 miles on the Sienna. I have rotated the tires every 5000-10,000 miles and have kept them inflated properly. I was at my independent tire shop this morning because one of the tires on our 2003 4Runner seemed to be losing air. The tire shop diagnosed the problem as the tire not sealing well against the rim and fixed it for free since I bought the tires there. I asked the tire person to look at my tires and he confirmed that I was getting close to needing replacements. My wife was along and said that we had to have Michelin tires–she insisted on that brand for the 4Runner which she drives and was also afraid that I would buy cheap tires. The tire dealer told me to wait until November and Michelin would be offering a good rebate. The latest Consumer Report magazine just came out (the November issue) and has a report on its tire tests. Look for the all season tires with the best traction rating and I think you will be fine.

Here in Denver, I put my winter tires (mounted on separate wheels) on my BMW when it snows and run summer tires when it does not. I’ve had my winter tires six years and they show no signs of wear. Driving winter tires during the summer will quickly wear them out. One friend puts new winter tires on his car the beginning of every winter and runs them all year. Either approach will work.

Winter tires have a softer rubber compound. If you run them at summer temperatures, you’ll wear them down quickly, wasting money.

Something with aggresive tread tends to be noisy,so if you dont like racket beware-Kevin

Factory tyres are seldom the best available.

Look for a set of four new tyres and see how TireRack and other sources rate them before you buy.

There’s a reason why many winter tires are only Q speed rated - and the standard all season is S or T rated. The tire runs hotter and fails more easily. This should tell you NOT to use winter tires in the summer (afterall- they are called “winter tires” for a reason.)

Besides, winter tires aren’t always very good for wet traction - just like many OE all season tires.

You need to select a good wet traction tire by reading the surveys on Tire Rack. Some all season tires are fantastic - some are not.

Great thoughts. Let me add that old style snows that had the same rubber compound as summer tires but with deeper tread needed studs work on ice. There are some out there still…they are called all terrain tires and can be used all year. I have successfully used them on several occasions on vehicles that I don’t drive fast in the summer…Suzuki Sidekick and a Toyota Pickup set p for off road. But, I wouldn’t try as they probably won’t be in your size and are noisy as heck.

There are some all season tires that Tire Rack and CR has tested as decent in winter conditions. If I lived in Baltimore, that’s all I would do. Inexperience in driving in winter is a huge factor along with OEM tires in cars sold in states without heavy snow fall. Like they have all said, just upgrade to better tires but go to a tire specialist and not a dealer.

BTW, good winter tires will not make up for lack of winter driving experience. It doesn’t matter how often you drove in snow when young, if you aren’t doing it regularly now, it’s tough going. Baltimore is NOT conducive to developing and maintaining this experience.

The latest issue of Consumer Reports has their new tire test results, and it includes all-season tires (including “regular” ones as well as high-performance all-season tires) and winter tires.

Besides giving you a good comparison chart enabling you to see how the various all-season tires compare on issues such as dry braking, wet braking, ice-braking, hydroplaning, snow traction, tread life, and rolling resistance, it also includes the results of their winter tire tests.

As you will see from the charts, most winter tires actually do poorly when it comes to things like handling, dry braking and hydroplaning, and most have a high rolling resistance. In other words, there are reasons why winter tires are specified for winter use, and not for all-season use.

So…besides wasting a whole heap of money on winter tires when they develop excessive wear during warmer weather, you would actually wind up with reduced safety in non-winter conditions.

Tire design is fraught with compromises. If you reduce rolling resistance to increase fuel economy, you frequently reduce traction. If you increase tread life (with a harder rubber compound), you almost always reduce wet weather and winter performance. If you use a softer rubber compound for winter conditions, you increase tread wear. If you design a tire for great performance on dry roads, you almost always wind up with a tire that is really bad on winter road surfaces. If you design the tread for maximum winter traction, you usually wind up with more road noise. And so on…

The problems that the OP has found with his/her OEM tires are likely due to the car mfr’s priorities when selecting those OEM tires. What are the car mfr’s priorities? Most likely they were looking for the cheapest tires that would also enable good gas mileage. Period.

Unless you are buying a high-performance vehicle, low price and low-rolling resistance are probably the two factors that drive most mfr’s OEM tire choices, with a soft ride being a possible third priority. I can tell you that the OEM tires (Bridgestone Potenza RE-92) that Subaru used to use on Outbacks were absolutely hazardous on winter road surfaces. Once I got rid of those crappy OEM tires, it felt like a totally different vehicle on winter road surfaces.

The bottom line is that the OP’s plan for using winter tires all year is a bad one…for many reasons.
Use those CR test results, coupled with the information on Tire Rack’s website, and you should be able to find tires that meet your needs. Just don’t be surprised at the potentially high cost of those tires. Cheap tires are rarely a bargain in the long run.

Nokian is brand from Scandinavia that really specializes in winter tires. They now make a couple of all season tires that really are excellent in winter and snow that can be run all year. Some other tire makers are following suite.

Also, it has nothing to do with your car weight, light cars can handle fine in rain and snow with good tires.

Try visiting www.tirerack.com and www.1010tires.com. Both have good consumer feedback sections that might help you make a selection.

they our made of a softer rubber if you ever watch Formula 1 on the speed chaneal when they race in the raain they use a rain tire witch is grooved and a real soft rubber but as the track dries the tyers loss their grip real fast. snows our the same way work great in the snow and the wet but in the dry the wear out and very little grip as dagosa said check out tire rack’s web site