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Snow Tires?

I’ve recently relocated to an area that receives lots of snowfall (western MA). I grew up in northern new england, so I’m used to driving in snow. In the past, I drove a truck with rear wheel drive, so i always used studded snow tires with extra weight over the rear end.

Now I’m driving a 2003 Jeep liberty sport with 4 wheel drive and all - weather tires. I’ve never owned a 4 wheel drive vehicle until now.

So, my question for you guys is this: Should I buy a set of snow tires for this car, or will I be OK with what I currently have?

It depends on how desparately you need to drive somewhere on a snowy day? If you are retired and can sit out the storm(s) you don’t need winter tires. If you must get to work or whatever no matter what the conditions, then play it safe and get winter tires.

Some all season tires are pretty decent in snow especially with 4WD. Other all season tires are really very poor in snow. Perhaps you can wait until a good snowfall and see what kind of traction you get.

4 wheel drive will help you get where you are going in the snow, but it will not keep you from sliding off the road or prevent you from sliding under that jackknifed semi. I say that because I was involved with an accident involving a jackknifed semi which had a honeymoon couple’s car go under the semi. They both died.

Four wheel drive or two wheel drive with the brakes locked give you the exact same effect. Having four good WINTER tyres will help a lot. Much better under those conditions than 4WD with all season tyres.

The chief advantages of a snow tire are the squared-off ridge at the edges of the tire, which uses the snow itself to prevent the vehicle from losing control during a turn; the studs, which help the car drive in control and stop on ice; and the fatter, deeper tread, which in light snow at least are less likely to get completely clogged with snow and can also move more slush and water behind the vehicle while driving, keeping more of the actual tire in contact with the ground. Since you grew up in new england, you might have seen a lot of what I see every winter: 4 wheel drive SUV and truck drivers that fly around in the snow, passing the front wheel and rear wheel drive cars, only to end up in a ditch when they lose control of their vehicles. 4 wheel drive helps the vehicle to MOVE in snow. To some degree it adds a higher level of control. But, if you take a turn too fast on ice or snow, or you slam on the brakes and can’t down-shift at the same time, you will find that 4 wheel drive doesn’t help all that much in controlling the vehicle in these situations (although the ABS definitely helps you steer while braking, it increases stopping distance at the same time. Any added traction you can get by the way of your tires would help reduce that distance).
You don’t NEED snow tires on a 4 wheel drive vehicle, but they are safer in the snow and ice for the above reasons on any vehicle. A lot depends on how you drive the vehicle. If you don’t expect the vehicle to be completely safe in all conditions and drive accordingly, and have a good set of all-weather tires on the car each winter, you should be fine without the expense of buying and changing out snow tires at the beginning and end of each winter. Just make sure you have a better brand of tire (the 60,000 mile plus brands) and that the tires you buy are not only “new”, but newly manufactured. Try this link to learn more:

As you already likely know, winter tires are far superior at stopping and cornering by a decent margin. Especially on ice.

I personally would wait till a few storms and then determine your purchase. All-seasons can be plain awful in the snow,with most okay and a few offer near winter tire performance.

4 wheel drive will help you get where you are going in the snow, but it will not keep you from sliding off the road

I have to completely disagree with that…4wd will most certainly help keep you from sliding off the road. I’ve driven in MANY (well over 500 storms of 10" or more) and 4wd definitely helped in keeping me on the road while many other cars were sliding into ditches. I’ve only driven into a ditch ONCE…and that was with a rwd pickup.