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Snow tires

Hi, I’ve just bought a 2006 Hyundai Santa Fe AWD. I live in Ontario and am wondering is it necessary to use snow tires with an AWD? I think it is and my hubby doesn’t.

The traction in snow is only as good as the tires. So yes, winter tires will provide better traction in snow. Not only when starting out from a stop, but also when you have to stop.

If hubby really cared for you, he wouldn’t hesitate putting winter tires on your vehicle.


I agree with Tester. AWD will help you get going, but only snow tires will help you stop.

The term snow tires is now considered archaic, and has been replaced by the term winter tires.
As Tester stated, winter tires do give you a significant safety advantage in terms of cornering safely and in stopping in a far shorter distance, in addition to being able to get going more easily.

I have an AWD vehicle, and I always mount a set of 4 winter tires for the snowy months. While you do have to lay out the cost for this extra set of tires (and its own set of steel wheels), since your regular tires will not be used for the months when you use the winter tires, in effect you are not really spending more money. Your regular tires will last longer as a result of their “winter vacation”, and you will be far safer. And, it is difficult to put a price on added safety.

Usually the stock OEM supplied tires on an AWD SUV should have some openness to the tread design to bite in snow. However they often compromise for a quiet ride and longer tread life which means harder rubber and not an optimum tread design for snow.

Therefore I like snow tires if you live in a cold, snowy, and hilly area. The rubber in snow (or winter) tires is softer so that it doesn’t get too stiff in cold temps. Regular rubber can get “rock like” in very cold climates. The tread designs are very open which means good snow and ice traction but more road noise and faster wear. These trade offs can be well worth it when you have to stop on a downhill slope. AWD with standard all season tires will generally get you going without much problem. The all season tires won’t corner or stop nearly as well as true winter snow tires.

I don’t live in Ontario, but I know it is cold there. I don’t know your annual snowfall, the current tires on the SUV, or how hilly your terrain? Perhaps you can wait until the snow flies and see how safe you feel with the current set up. If you feel you need more traction then you can buy winter tires.

I have a large SUV ('01 Toyota Sequoia) which I purchased used a year ago. Last winter I wasn’t financially able to buy winter tires so I got to see how it did with the Bridgestones that are on it. All 4 tires were nearly new and it handled the hills in the Pocono Mtns. with no problems. The tires are still OK and I going to stick with them this winter too.

While my usual preference is for winter tires, I think you can flexible and see how your current tires perform in the winter.

The costs of winter tires is a consideration. There is the cost of the winter tires, then mounting and balancing them every fall, and doing that again every spring to put the summer tires back on. I buy extra wheels and mount the winter tires and just switch them myself to save the mounting and balancing, but the wheels aren’t cheap either. For 2 of 3 of my cars I have mounted snows.

I’d order a set of winter tires on rims now, have them ready to install when the snow flies. You may not need them most of the time, but when you do, they’re worth it.

First, you don’t want snow tyres. If you find some they are old technology and not nearly as good as modern WINTER tyres.

AWD is there only to get you out of the ditch that you slid into because you did not have winter tyres. From a safety standpoint the ability to stop and control what direction you are moving is far more important than the ability to get out of the ditch or even just down the road. When the weather is really bad, stay home. It is not worth your life.

I would rate AWD as a very slight safety improvement.

Make mine another vote for winter tires AND for putting them on seperate rims. Seperate rims make seasonal switching much easier and more convenient and prevent the beads fron getting beat up twice a year and possibly developing slow leaks.

I have driven an AWD Subaru wagon for 11 years and a selectable 4WD Toyota Tercel wagon for 8 years. Both do fine in the snow with ordinary, all-season tires. AWD really does make that much of a difference.

You do need to worry about a few things:[list]Adjust your driving to deal with less traction than you would have on bare pavement. Mostly, this means driving a bit slower and leaving more room ahead of you because stopping distances will be longer. You don’t need to creep along at 20 mph when other traffic is going 40.[/list][list]Don’t get into snow so deep that your car becomes high centered. It doesn’t matter what kind of tires you have if they are no longer in full contact with the ground.[/list][list]Try not to be too angry with the drivers of ill-equipped cars when they get stuck in front of you.[/list]

Real winter tires (e.g. Bridgestone Blizzaks) would give you additional traction. However, in my experience, they are not necessary when you have AWD.

For any situation other than traction for acceleration, like needing to stop to avoid an accident or hitting a kid crossing the street, please help me understand how AWD will provide any advantage over non-AWD?

I would have agreed except that the OP is from Ontario. They need all the traction they can muster up there. Winters can be amazing.

JEM and VDC - while I agree that ‘snow tire’ is no longer accurate, why does it matter, if ‘snow tires’ can’t be bought? A distinction without a difference, isn’t it?

If someone remembers the old “snow tires” with their very aggressive zig-zag treads, that person might look at the typical off-road tire and assume that it is a snow tire. The modern winter tire technology actually utilizes very fine siping and a soft rubber compound to provide far better traction than any zig-zag tread tire could.

While there may actually not be any old-type “snow tires” on sale anymore, it is still important for the OP to know what she is looking at. I am just trying to educate the OP a bit.

AWD will get you moving in deeper winter conditions and up those steep hills.

However winter tires(snow) will not only help you stop but also maintain your traction around bends/corners. If you have owned winter tires in the past you will be sorely disappointed in AWD with all-seasons.

It is not necessary except in select locales/driveway situations to own winter tires. However they definitely make severe winter driving easy except for avoiding every other car on the road with crappy tires.

In area’s where winter tires are essential AWD with all-seasons(my Subaru WRX) I found are a severe crutch and make you a road hazard. That was my personal experience around Jay Peak Ski resort(400"/year average snowfall) in Northeast VT.

cb; I don’t live in Ontario, but in a cold region that gets lots of snow.

My wife’s Nissan has Michelin X-ICE winter tires, which are simply amazing in getting to the mountains to ski.

Her car has regular Michelin X tires, on separate rims, for the summer. Aside from the extra set of rims, the overall cost of having 2 sets of wheels & tires is zero, since only one set of wheels is in use at any one time!

Your husband should buy you this very significant advance in tire technology for both your safety!!!

I grew up in southern Ontario (Toronto, Hamilton and Brantford) and drove through eight winters there in the 1960s. For three of them, I commuted 40 miles daily between Brantford and Hamilton to attend college classes. My car for most of it was a 1962 VW beetle on bias ply summer tires. I did have trouble getting up hills one winter because the tires were nearly bald and I couldn’t afford new ones. For the last winter, I had a 1968 beetle with Michelin XAS tires ($250 worth of 130 mph tires on a $2,000, 90 mph car.) The Michelins were a definite improvement.

In northern Ontario, away from the moderating influence of the Great Lakes, winters are much colder. Had I lived up there, the beetle’s weak heater would have been a problem.

Agreed that modern winter tires provide greater traction than all-season tires. However, they are not going to turn glare ice into dry pavement. What’s far more important is driving within your vehicle’s performance envelope under the prevailing road conditions. The only times I have gotten into trouble on all season tires was when I forgot to stay within the envelope.

On the other hand, I had problems getting up hills every winter before I had AWD. This was with RWD and FWD cars on all kinds of tires. The only 2WD cars that ever worked well were VW beetles and Chevy Corvairs, both of which were rear engine. My first AWD car was a Toyota Tercel wagon that could be shifted between FWD and AWD. In FWD, it was nearly helpless on snow and completely so on ice. In AWD, it never got stuck. This was on half worn all season tires.

There is a guy in town with Bridgestone Blizzaks on his AWD Porsche 911. I’m sure he can really tear up ice and snow covered roads. But he doesn’t need the Blizzaks any more than he needs his car’s 180 mph top speed.

All true, but even Tire Rack lists them as “winter/snow tires”.

even with awd, good snow tires will give you more of a safety margin when stopping and they should grip better when the road is icy. also, their tread pattern is better at throwing off snow. think of them as good insurance that you hopefully won’t ever need. I live in the northern rockies and drive a subaru but decided after a few years to invest in snow tires.