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Snow tires - VW Rabbit '07 FWD

This is my first winter in snowy New England. I’m preparing my Californian car for the season and will need to buy snow tires soon.
I’ve been told different things by my mechanic and by the tire guys.
Should I buy 2 snow tires for the front, or do I really need to buy snow tires for all 4?

Thanks in advance!

You really MUST buy 4. Otherwise you’ll be spinning out or failing to stop/steer. Especially because you’re new to this.

  1. You don’t absolutely “need” dedicated snow tires. A good all-season tire that works well in snow/ice is a workable solution for many New Englanders, including me. Most New Englanders do not want to bother with paying for a second set of tires and swapping them out each season.

  2. But if you have special conditions (steep driveway, go skiing often, etc) then dedicated snow tires will give you extra traction.

  3. Whatever you decide, check and read user reviews and survey results for various tires. Survey results will show snow/ice traction ratings for all tires. You can find all-season tires that have good winter traction by checking those surveys. Hankook Optimo 727 is one all-season tire that’s reasonably priced and works extremely well in snow/ice.

  1. A matched set of 4 tires will work best. Especially in winter conditions, if you have grippy tires up front and less-grippy tires in rear, hitting the brakes on snow/ice could cause you to spin out. Especially inexperienced California drivers. :wink:

I would buy 4 snow tires. If this is your first time driving in snow and ice, you’ll want all the help you can get. Plus snow tires stay softer than all weather radials in the cold and the deeper tread gives better traction for both stopping and going. In Canada all cars have to use snow tires. They don’t allow all weather radials, to many accidents due to loss of traction.

If you’ve already decided to buy snow (AKA winter) tires I won’t try to dissuade you. You will feel the advantages all season long. I have bought winter tires twice from They can ship them mounted on inexpensive steel wheels. If you do your own seasonal switchovers, over the long run your net money cost is the cost of the 4 steel wheels - in my mind, an excellent cost/benefit ratio.

My wife and I put the winter tires on the Honda yesterday, while an earlier than usual winter storm hit us here in Duluth. AM travel was treacherous and we had to back down a hill we could not climb with the summer tires. An hour and a half later the winter set was in place and the car was much more capable, while I drove to buy gas for the snowblower.

Great! Thanks everyone for the quick response! This helps a lot!

You have no choice if you buy from a reputable tire dealer/ installer. And, they are right !

Let me just add, if you were waking and turning right, notice as you step to the right with your right foot, your left foot pushes off. It’s called your “posting” foot and requires good traction or it slips first in snow.
In exactly the same way, when you turn your car, lateral force is applied to the rear wheels. If the traction is insufficient and and not nearly as good as the front wheels, you can go into a spin. It similarly occurs when braking. If you don’t have enough lateral traction on the rear when you brake, and the traction is unequal on the two front wheels so lateral turning force is applied to the rear, you will again spin out.

In some respects, it is more dangerous to have the front and rear axle with different tires then it is to have the same but less traction overall. Or, don’t put any snow tires on if you can’t put them on all four. Spinning is worse then sliding in most peoples minds and thankfully, most tire sale’s people’s requirements.

Where you are not used to driving in snow, BUY THEM.