Winter tires, necessary? And recommendations

I have a 2013 Honda Accord EX. I live in Northeastern PA, but commute weekly to Washington, DC. That means I do a lot of driving, but most of it on the Interstate.

I am pretty sure I should get a set of winter tires installed, but I was curious to hear opinions about it from people here. My dealer recommended Glacier Grips. I’m planning to get at least one more quote/recommendation from a local tire shop. My main question is this - the winters can vary from mild to cold. We usually get big snow a few times a year. So, will a majority of dry, mild highway driving from November - March be BAD for my car at all? Will the winter tires be a problem? Or is there nothing to worry about there?

I usually just postpone or rearrange my long drive if weather conditions are known to be bad. But you can’t plan for everything and I had a really bad experience last Christmas with a sort of “flash” snow storm. My old Civic had what I think were sort of “performance” tires on it, and I think they did really well (snow came fast, froze fast, and no one was expecting it - even the Interstate was a sheet of ice). I was in the 10% of cars who, I think, made it up a specific hill without sliding. Also, any comments on the Glacier Grips as tires? Any other recommendations?

The other thing I remember was that the tires on my Civic were really, really loud. So recommendations for well-performing winter tires that will not have a lot of road noise… is that a dream?

I have Michelin Xice-2’s on an '03 Honda Civic and they do an excellent job. Snow and ice traction aren’t the only issue. I find these Michelin winter tires to be very quiet on dry and wet pavement and since Honda’s transmit more road noise than other cars a quiet tire is important. Also the Michelin winter tires have low rolling resistance and I find I get as good or better mpg than my summer tires.

I don’t know the brand of winter tire the OP is considering, but in general winter tires can be noisy due to the open tread design. And most decrease mpg also. All I can say is I’d recommend the Michelin X-ice winter tires based on my experience with a set of 4 last winter.

Do you need winter tires? I’d say yes, because there are lots of hills between Washington DC and NE PA. I happen to live in NE PA about 25 east of Scranton just off I-84.

@Uncleturbo Yes, I also endorse Michelin X-ICE. We have them on both our cars and they are not only quiet but they also last a long time. I’ve had mine since 2007 and they’re barely worn.

I endorse Michelin X-Ice as well. The newer version is the Xi-3 and the older version is the Xi-2. Both are excellent.

If you don’t mind the hassle of switching, I’d say that winter tires are preferred for your situation, although you could get away with good all-season tires, given your ability to change your schedule.

Read the reviews and survey results of the tires you’re considering on Tire Rack’s web site.

Since it sounds like you HAVE to drive even when the weather’s bad, I’d get a set, mounted and balanced on a set of rims (tirerack does that). I’d also go for the Michelins.

You could also try a set of all-season Hankook Optimo H727 tires. These have excellent grip in snow and ice and are almost as good as dedicated winter tires. I’ve driven them in winter conditions and have been very impressed. You can read user reviews on

I’m not against them but just have never needed them in Minnesota. If you do get them, the way to go is to get four new wheels with the winter tires on to make swapping them easy. Don’t forget you’ll need four new tire pressure monitor valves too and maybe need to relearn the TPMS each time if its not automatic. So depending on the tires and wheels, you’re looking at $1500-2000. Some tire shops will also store the other wheels off-season which makes transport or storing easier. Just think how you haul four tires down to the tire shop if you don’t do it yourself.

I have the Hankook Optimo 727’s on my van and they are a fine tire. They come off in November and my Michelin Xi-2’s go on until April.

@zsenya - You need to check if Honda has changed the process for registering the TPMS sensors since I bought my 2008 Accord. At that time Honda required the dealer to do it since expensive hardware and software was needed to do the programming every time you switched a set of wheels. My Mazda, Toyota and Ford all have much simpler procedures that can be done by the owner of the car with little or no additional expense. I only say this because I paid for the TPMS sensors in the rims that I bought for my winter tires and then never used them since I refused to pay my Honda dealer $90 at every changeover (twice a year). My cell phone, strategically placed on the dashboard, covered up the TPMS light. If someone had warned me before my purchase I could have saved over $200.

First, the best strategy would be to avoid driving if the weather is going to be bad.

The second thing is to stop driving when the weather turns bad unexpectedly.

Third is that you’ve described a situation where there are strong contradictions - long drive, snow traction.

If you employ those strategies, then you might be able to get away with an all season tire with good snow traction. This minimizes the contradiction, where a winter tire would be biased towards winter traction and not so much towards good wear and fuel economy. There are several All Season tires that fit that description.

I’ve been driving for 50 years. Since all-season tires became available, I’ve never used anything else. This requires a bit of common sense and caution. Also, you have to be willing to get rid of your tires when the tread is down to about 4/32 inch–but this is much cheaper than buying an extra set of winter tires. A few tips:

  1. remember that not being able to stop is a lot more dangerous than not being able to start.
  2. no matter the car, if your tires are different, have the best ones on the back. that way you won’t slide out as easily if you try to stop.

I also like Hankook Optimo 727. Another good choice might be Michelin Defender (better tire mileage–justified for a newish car). I think there are some rebates now on both brands.

One thing you may want to consider if the majority of your driving is expressway, is the speed rating on winter tires. I recall when I bought my recent set of Blizzaks they had a lower speed rating and boy were they squirrely above 65 mph when they were new. The performance on ice and snow was astounding but it was unnerving when trying to keep up with faster traffic on the interstate. Naturally, as time went by they wore down and the rubber became less compliant but when that happens, they don’t do as well as when new. Winter tires can be considered “worn out” from a traction perspective long before the tread is significantly worn down.

With all due respect to those responding with their desire to use all season tires year round, a decision to use winter tires is a personal one based on where you live (I live in the snow belt of New York State), the miles you are required to drive, and your willingness to sacrifice a margin of safety for the convenience and savings of not dealing with two sets of tires. While I always try to drive the correct speed for conditions I live in an area where conditions can change in seconds and I do not have the luxury of staying home when the snow falls, which can stretch from the end of October to the beginning of May. I can say with confidence that winter tires have gotten me home safely in conditions that I would not want to test with all season tires. I have a wife, four children, and a step child. Their lives are worth the expense and hassle of winter tires. But that is a decision I have made. The OP sounds like he or she has decided to go with winter tires but was questioning if dry highway driving will hurt them and if anyone could recommend a quiet winter tire. The answer is no, dry highway driving will not hurt a winter tire unless you drive it in temperatures above 60 degrees or at excessively high speeds. There are many quiet winter tires but, as I said in an earlier post, the Michelins are quite quiet and highly rated.

With all due respect to those responding with their desire to use all season tires year round, a decision to use winter tires is a personal one based on where you live (I live in the snow belt of New York State), the miles you are required to drive, and your willingness to sacrifice a margin of safety for the convenience and savings of not dealing with two sets of tires.

I use to live in the Snow belt in NY. Grew up and learned how to drive in Pulaski NY. Went to college at SU. And I agree…driving in that area (especially north of Syracuse - Central Square and above)…you really should have dedicated snow tires. Way too much snow…and the lake effect snow is unpredictable.

But here in NH where my town averages less then 1/10 Pulaski averages…All season tires are fine. Been living here for about 30 years now…Wife has never needed anything up all season tires and never ever had a problem with well over 600k miles on the vehicles she’s owned since we lived here. If we moved to Pulaski…I’d be putting 4 snows on her Lexus this month.

If I had to drive a 4 hour (one way) commute every week, regardless of weather, in a hilly/snowy (sometimes) area, I’d get the winter tires.

Scranton is #77 on the list of 101 most snowy cities in the US.

It’s not just snow, it’s ICE and we have plenty of that here on the upper right coast. I drive a lot of roads that have trees overhanging them and after the sun goes down, you never know when you’re going to hit an ice patch. And they let trees grow right next to the roads here making for white knuckle driving even at relatively low speeds. I grew up in the midwest and never once had “snow tires” but since moving out east, where ice is such a hazard, I wouldn’t consider not having them. The difference is amazing.

As far as calibrating the TPMS, my Acura will do it automatically once you drive over 20 MPH or so. My Pontiac you have to go into the TPMS mode and then add or drop pressure in the tires in the proper sequence. Its fairly simple to do but helps to have an air compressor in the garage. I’d have a problem if I had to pay the dealer to do it.

If you can monitor your snow driving situations, there is little need to buy snow tires. You can for safety sake, look for a higher rated all season tire in snow. That is as far as I would go in your situation. If I did most f my driving in and around your area on the interstate, I would not drive with the poorer handling qualities and worse wet road traction of most snow tires. IMHO, it’s more important you have a good rain tire with decent handling and adaquate winter traction in an all season tire. I would do this instead of driving a compromised dedicated winter tire at higher speeds on the interstate on the 99.9% of the time you don’t drive in snow. Just avoiding performance tires will do wonders for winter traction. Compromise all season tires are your best bet.

Just so you know, I do drive dedicated snow tires in the winter. But, I drive on a mountain dirt road that is snow and ice covered nearly everyday for 4 months out of the year.

Winter tires are not necessary. However they are wonderful when the conditions are poor and give lots of peace of mind.

Also they also extend your tires usable life as most all seasons turn sketchy below 5/32" tread depth. You run worn tires much further in non winter conditions.

If you are in the market for new tires the Nokian WR and WR G2 both offer wonderful winter traction but are usable year round. The downside is a bit pricey due to limited resellers and get noisy with lax rotation habits.

Just an update to say thank you and that I appreciate all of the advice. Still mulling this over. Went to my local tire store and they were kind of nonchalant and seemed kind of off about winter tires. They were pushing all-season, specifically the Hankook. I’m not 100% opposed to the all-season, it’s just that they made my old Honda Civic really loud…