Snow tires for a front wheel drive Toyota Sienna van

I live in (sometimes) snowy northwest Pennsylvania and when I went to buy snow tires for the front wheels of my van the tire dealer told me I would have to purchase 4 tires, or I would have to go elsewhere. Was he just trying to sell more tires, or is having matching tires a requirement for a front wheel drive van that has stability control?

I did end up purchasing 4 tires & have left them on all year round for the past 2 years. They still have about 50% of the tread and I was going to see if I could just get new snow tires for the front, but I’m afraid that he will tell me I have to replace all of them at the same time.

You need 4 winter tires, not 2, so the tire dealer did not lie to you.
The term “snow tires” is archaic, and does not accurately describe the new technology winter tires, which provide increased traction on ice, as well as on snow.

Also–you made a BIG mistake by leaving your winter tires on the van after the winter season ended. Winter tires wear very rapidly in temperatures over 45 degrees, and also result in lower gas mileage than all-season tires. Translation–you wasted a lot of money on two counts.

If you want to be able to operate the vehicle safely on winter roadways, with consistent traction on all 4 wheels, you need to buy 4 new winter tires (mounted on their own set of steel wheels) and then demount them in the spring and replace them with regular/all-season tires.

I think that winter tires (what you are calling snow tires) should be mounted on all 4 wheels regardless of whether the vehicle is front wheel drive, rear wheel drive or all wheel drive. There are traction differences between winter tires and all season or regular tires.

I know that in the old days with rear wheel drive cars, we put the winter tires on the rear wheels, but today’s tires and vehicles are different. I think your best bet would be to buy 4 winter tires, mount them on separate rims and then take them off and replace them with your other tires and wheels at the end of the season.

You dont need Snow Tires. Get All Season and you dont have to have 4 but it would be best

You need winter tires on all four corners, regardless of drive train configuration.

Winter tires wear out very quickly during summer conditions, and may not last from one winter season to the next.

They are called “winter tires” for a reason.

If you’re only buying two tires, they must be installed on the REAR wheels.

I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true.

Best tires on the rear. Always.

It minimizes the chances of a spin. You don’t want your van to spin, do you?

In agreement with “Peacefrog” and “mcparadice” let me add,
confusion arises when people mix tires. Look at tire tests and you’ll see that except for some of the most expensive winter tires, most have WORSE traction on dry pavement than all seasons. For this reason, I wouldn’t install 2 winter tires on the rear or front only. Match wear and read design, even if it means going w/o snows till you can afford 4 of them.

So if we say “best tires”; IOM it applies to the tires with the same tread design as the front if possible ( or at least all seasons if that’s what’s on the other axle with close tread design).

With fwd, when you buy just two new tires (of the same tread) and put them on the rear; when would you ever rotate ? Till the fronts are unsafe and buy two more and never rotate again ? Again, a big reason to buy 4 if possible. Otherwise, you constantly run into poor tire management practices if you don’t.

Your assuming he can afford and or wants to be swapping tires twice a year

If the OP wants winter tires, it is less expensive to mount four winter tires on their own wheels and remove them when the winter season is over. The OP’s regular tires aren’t being used in the winter and will last longer. The winter tires, as others have stated, will wear out quickly if used in the summer months. The tire wear is being distributed over 8 tires instead of 4.

If the OP doesn’t opt for four winter tires, then all season tires is the least expensive option.

If you put two winter tires on the front and hit your brakes in the snow, you can easily go into a spin, since the rear tires will have far less traction. The tire dealer is right.

How do you know she does not need snow tires. Can you magically see her driving situation from your end of the keyboard???

4 tires since you want the front and rear to stop at same time. If front stops first the rear will come swinging around which is really hard to recover from in FWD.

“You dont need Snow Tires. Get All Season and you dont have to have 4 but it would be best.”

The problem with this statement is that there is no standard whatsoever for what constitutes an all-season tire, and as a result tire manufacturers can call any tire an all-season tire, even if it is downright lousy on snow.

Some all-seasons may be barely adequate in comparison to winter tires, but most will be far inferior to a genuine winter tire. And, one cannot tell the difference by simply looking at the tread or by asking the majority of sales people at a tire dealership. For example, the Bridgestone Potenza RE-92 “all-season” tire has so little traction on snow that it actually constitutes a safety hazard, IMHO.

Genuine winter tires–the ones displaying the mountain peak/snow flake symbol on the sidewall–DO have to meet an industry-wide standard for traction on ice and snow. Anyone who says that all-season tires have winter traction equivalent to genuine winter tires has clearly never driven a car with marginal all-seasons and then switched to a genuine winter tire.

The difference is so dramatic that it must be experienced in order to be believed–particularly the difference in stopping distances.

You dont need Snow Tires.

That sounds like life long resident of the sunny south. No “all season” tyres perform well in snow. They are really three season. Modern winter tires far out perform all season tyres.

Your assuming he can afford and or wants to be swapping tires twice a year

I am assuming they want to be able to drive safely in snow and ice conditions. A very small price to pay for increased safety.

Buying snow tires is just like buying insurance. You need to decide for yourself how much protection you want.

I am a big believer in equipping a vehicle with four good winter snow tires.

[list]At a minimum, all season tires are better in snow than summer tires[/list]

[list]Next, two winter tires on the drive axle provide better traction for acceleration and braking than all season tires on that axle.[/list]

[list]And last, four winter tires provide even better traction for acceleration and braking than just two.[/list]

It’s your choice. I care more about braking control in the snow than getting stuck. Four good winter tires will give you the best braking. No one can tell you if that extra braking traction will be the difference you need to avoid an accident or to avoid hitting that kid on a sled sliding into the roadway.

Like insurance - you need to decide.

Watch this video and form your own opinion about 2 or 4 winter tires, and seriously consider getting separate rims for those tires as well as 4 regular tires for your van.

I’m considering purchasing winter tires for our FWD Sienna, which is terrible in the snow. We live in Northern Virginia where snow amounts in winter can range from none to a ton. Can you recommend a tire that works well on a Sienna? The dealer has advised against winter tires. The size is: P225/60R17. Appreciate any help. Thanks.

Look, I don’t like going to the dentist either, so just buck up and consider your family’s safety and that of others. Buy 4 Bridgestone Blizzak Snow tires. They are the best IMO and will last if you take them off in the Spring. Check consumer reports or e-pinions. I love mine.

The flip side to that is that in areas that don’t get much snow, or that have very efficient plow service, it really is debatable whether winter tires are a necessity.

Full disclosure: I live in MN. We do get snow here. I run on all-season tires (Michelin Pilot-Sport A/S). On the very rare occasions that I drive on snowy roads (because the plows scrape it down to dry pavement within hours of the storm, generally) I do something amazing that really helps me to maintain full control of my car even though I am on “inferior” non-winter tires: I slow down. I have yet to slide into a ditch. I have yet to cause a wreck.

When you get right down to it, all a tire is is a variable-friction contact with the road. That friction varies with speed, temperature, and road surface. If you slap on winter tires and then think you can do 70 (as an appalling number of people here do) then you’ll be in the snowbank long before my car even starts to slide.

Studies have shown that the safer you make driving, the more hazardous behavior people exhibit while driving. Put someone on a twisty, snowy mountain road on all-season tires in a car that doesn’t have ABS or traction control and I guarantee he’ll drive a lot slower, and therefore safer, than the guy in the AWD Subaru with all the safety gadgetry and IceGripper9000 tires.

There’s a reason that you seem to see a disproportional number of 4 wheel drive SUVs in the ditch every time it snows. Because idiots get hold of something they think is safer in the snow, and so they think they can go faster.

Because of that, I’ll submit that in the hands of the average driver, a set of winter tires will provide better grip, but the driver will cancel that extra grip out by going faster.

According to Consumer Reports and others who actually do comparison tests of winter tires, the Blizzak is good, but the Michelin X-Ice is the top-rated winter tire.

In addition to having the best traction on snow and ice, the Michelin X-Ice also has the longest-wearing tread. Yes, you do have to take them off once average temperatures are consistently over 45 degrees–just like all winter tires–but during the period when they are mounted, you will notice that they show much less tread wear than Blizzaks.

I am a very satisfied owner of Michelin X-Ice tires. They are simply the best in class.