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Winter Tire Compounds

I know we have lots of discussions about winter tires but this is a pretty cool video showing how hockey pucks made from different tire materials slide on the ice of a hockey rink. Check out the video at the link. It should make you think twice about all season tires in snowy and/or icy climates.

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I have thought about it and it won’t change my decision one bit. Even here in NH (top ten snowy areas in the country) well over 95% of the time I’m not driving on ice or snow. You have to get to Upstate NY’s lake effect snow area or upper VT/ME/NH to warrant snow tires. Average Boston temp during the winter is ABOVE FREEZING.

Are snow tires better in snow? Yes.

Are all-season tires better on roads that aren’t covered in ice/snow? Yes.

So why would I waste money on tires that actually degrade my driving condition 95% of the time.
Maybe 10 days a year will snow tires really make a difference. Either I stay at home or drive a little slower.


My understanding is that winter tires have a compound that’s softer at typical winter temperatures, so that’s a consideration too.

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@MikeInNH - as mentioned in my original post, I was directing this at folks living in snowy and/or icy climates. If you only have 10 days a year of that type of weather then I think you don’t qualify. I live in the snow belt of Western NY. We get snow here for days on end all winter long. And winter starts here in November and ends sometime in late April.

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And when I lived north of Syracuse - Yes snow tires were preferred.

The point I was trying to make is there are MILLIONS of people who live in snow country who don’t need snow tires. In fact the vast majority of people who live in snow country don’t need snow tires. Area of the country that get enough snow to really benefit from them - people don’t want to live there.

@MikeInNH - We will have to agree to disagree. Lots of people live in very snowy areas and love it. Furthermore, while you accept the lesser traction “ten days a year”, there are many who would trade a small amount of traction every day for a MUCH larger safety margin during those ten days a year. I run winter tires (Michelin X-Ice 3) that are wonderful in dry conditions and pretty good in the wet. They are simply amazing when the snow falls or roads ice up. I find myself driving comfortably in conditions where other cars, including four wheel drive trucks and SUV’s, are off the road and in ditches. Winter tires are a choice that many deem to be overkill, until they are in an accident or off of the road on a deserted highway. I know, I know. You always drive slowly enough to avoid all that. I remember your arguments from the last several discussions.


I run Cooper SRX…EXCELLENT dry and Wet…and extremely good on light to moderate snow. I’ve had no problems in heavy deep snow either. Just can’t drive as fast. Wife has all-season Michelin on her Lexus ES-350. Never been stuck…never had a spin out. Great all around tires.

Yes there are many people who live in areas that will benefit greatly from snow tires. But the other 95% of the countries population won’t benefit.

I live north of the 45th parallel (half-way point between equator and north pole). I have lived here for 40 years.

It is very cold (dips to 20 to 30 or 40 below zero) and is sometimes below freezing day and night for over a week at a time.

We receive lots of snow, frequently. There are times we stay indoors until the plows can get out to clear roads. They become impassable, winter tires or no winter tires. When that occurs businesses and schools temporarily close.

That said, I’m with @MikeinNH on this one. In 40 years, nobody in my family of 4 drivers, some were teenagers commuting 20 miles one-way to school or town, 250 miles one-way running home from college, and adults driving 40 miles one-way to work, has ever left the roadway or been stuck or stranded because of operating with All-Season tires year-around.

As I’ve stated before, it isn’t traction that presents the biggest winter travel threat here. It is poor visibility caused by blowing snow, ice fog, freezing drizzle, etcetera.

Perhaps driving technique needs to be considered ahead of winter tires and hockey pucks. There are bold drivers and old drivers, but no old bold drivers.

Besides, with people who can’t keep a vehicle under control and on the road then AWD or winter tires could make things worse by giving them a false sense that they are decent drivers.

I have had a police/fire/emergency scanner running in my house during the past 40 years and the majority of people off roads are in SUVs or were breaking our state “driving too fast for conditions” law, as reported in local newspapers.

I’m not going to run out and buy a few sets of winter tires. Like high powered lighting, radar detectors or Truck Ballz if they float your boat then climb aboard! :wink:

I’m in Minnesota.

You need winter tires.

In the winter, you don’t know if you get up in the morning if there’s 3-4" of snow on the roads without the plows going thru. So you have to get to work under those conditions.

Or worse yet, you come out of work and there’s 3-4" of snow on the roads, and you want to go home!

We try to dig out the vehicles with all season tires, and once we get them going, we yell,"Don’t Stop!


It’s a real riot when you have the wrong tires for the conditions.

Here’s how crazy it can get on Minnesota freeways.


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I am in WI, we get the snowmegeddon every now and then, Never had a problem with trailblazer, Michelin LTX, Then Goodyear long Trail, then Michelin Defender, all all season tires, Wifey slight problems but nothing debilitating for 2015 Kia Optima with standard oem tires, yo really need to decide do I need to drive in the worst of conditions, what are my conditions, and living in WI, MN, and ND never bought a pair of snow tires since I started driving in 1972.

I am not saying snow tires will be a great improvement, they will be a great improvement, but I have not found the need.
I did put mud grips on my old toyota pickup, it would spin tires in a heavy dew

3 or 4 inches of snow? That’s a light dusting where I live! :laughing: That’s our snowfall on a clear day.

Do you know how I travel on the Interstate when it snows and blows and there is a possibility of a multi-car pile-up? I don’t. I take alternative routes.

White-outs are a common winter event here. Visibility can be fine when you enter the interstate and can suddenly end before your first exit. What do you do then? Stop or drive blind? It happens all the time. As I’ve said I have a scanner and can hear interstate activity. When that snow blows we get pile-ups!

It’s the fools who think they are safe because they drive AWDs or have fantastic winter tires that can drive right into you in a white-out. You need to get out of their way by driving elsewhere.

Visibility is the issue when travelling is bad where I live. Poor traction doesn’t scare me. I can handle that, always have, but not being able to see is another issue. It can make one homesick very fast. I don’t care what you drive or how it’s equipped. :wink:

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Let’s be honest. You can anticipate conditions all you want but they don’t call them “accidents” because you plan them. When I hear people who WON"T buy winter tires I hear a lot of dogma. People who have convinced themselves they are right. Folks, watch the Tire Rack videos (or any number of videos showing winter tire superiority). When the temperatures drop you NEVER KNOW if you will encounter slick conditions unexpectedly. Having winter tires doesn’t mean I, or my family members, drive faster. It just means that we have the ability to survive conditions that we meet without crashing or getting injured.

I don’t care if you have driven 100 years without winter tires and if you intend to drive 100 more without them. I will never permit any family member to go through our western NY winters without winter tires. Many times out of control oncoming vehicles have spun out in front of me or other drivers have come sliding though icy intersections. Every time I have driven safely around and away from danger.

All these winter tires don’t even cost me any extra money since my “regular” tires last twice as long since they are off of the cars for five months every year. In fact, I can run my all season tires all the way down to 3 or 4/32’s since they never have to go through snow. If you are running all-season tires you can’t leave them on the car for the winter with less than 5 or 6/32’s. I just can’t find any downside in having winter tires.


This snow tire law came into effect Dec 2008 in the province of Quebec

Starting Dec. 15, drivers caught driving without winter tires will face fines between $200 and $300.

From Quebec’s Highway Safety Code:

“Between 15 December to 15 March, the owner of a taxi or passenger vehicle registered in Quebec may not put the vehicle into operation unless it is equipped with tires specifically designed for winter driving, in compliance with the standards prescribed by government regulation. The prohibition also applies to any person renting out passenger vehicles not equipped with that type of tires.”


You keep equating Western NY to everyone else who lives in snow country…that’s just not the case. Area’s like Buffalo and Rochester see 3-5 times the amount of snow I do here in NH. We don’t get lake effect snow. Temps on average are a little warmer too. So just because where you live you need snow tires, doesn’t mean everyone who lives in snow country does. If I lived there or from where I grew up and learned how to drive (Pulaski NY) then I’d have snow tires. I still have family there…and most of them have 4wd with AT tires. 99% of the population in the US doesn’t get half the amount of annual snowfall Western NY gets.

I agree 100%. It helps save lives!


I agree on all points you made.

You don’t need to live where it snows heavily to benefit from winter tires. If it gets below freezing at night, we get ICE. That is far more insidious than snow. I can walk out my door and see snow. It doesn’t often just appear in random locations like ice can and does. There is no such thing as black snow. :wink: There is no comparison between the surefooted performance on ice with winter tires compared to all-seasons. There’s a reason they’re not called snow tires anymore. The compounds used really do outperform all-season tires at lower temperatures. I can tell the difference immediately when I make the switch at the start of winter. That extra degree of capability and stress reduction is worth every penny to me…


I had new cheapo Bf Goodrich tires and put on 1/2 worn blizzaks and I know the bfg tires had better traction, I would say new winter tires are better than most all season tires. 2-3 yr old winter tires? Maybe not so much. I had a 2nd set of wheels for the blizzaks so swapping was easy


Back in the 1950s, my dad put snow tires on the rear wheels in November and take them off in March. Back then, cars were rear wheel drive. He bought the snow tires from a local tire store that recapped the tires with snow treads. As I recall, walnut hulls were somehow part of the recap tread. Later on in the 1960s, we used studded tires. I am sure that for rear wheel drive cars, these winter tires improved traction considerably. I used winter until cars went to front wheel drive.

My older brother has been using Nokian winter tires for over a decade now, starting with a mid 80’s VW Jetta that he used to commute to his job at the Mt. Baker Ski resort and after that car on his 2006 Subaru Legacy wagon. Just being able to go about with confidence, including up the hill that you easily gain 1000ft of elevation if not more at the top (the first snow day in that house my brother walked down the trail to an overlook at the top of the hill and just watched the show). While others spin out on the mountain pass they just cruise on by. They’re looking at something bigger for the family and i’d bet that a set of nokian tires with steel wheels gets purchased soon after.

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Blizzaks are designed to degrade at ~half-worn. From TireRack article:

The Blizzak WS-tires’ Multicell tread compound comprises the top 55 percent of the tires’ tread depth with a standard winter tread compound comprising the remaining 45 percent. When Blizzaks are approximately 50 percent worn, their “snow platform” tread depth indicators “connect” selected shoulder tread blocks to indicate that the Multicell tread compound is almost worn out, and that the enhanced snow and ice performance is about to end.