Are winter tires really needed?
If you drive where it’s winter. Yes!
Depends on where you live and how well the roads are maintained in winter, so far as snow removal is concerned. I live in Eastern Kansas and do fine with all season tires. I also take winter trips to Wisconsin and Colorado and have done fine without winter tires. However, I am also a fairly experienced bad weather driver. Your experience may vary.
The further north you go, the more likely you are to need snow tires.
What do you drive and where do you live?
It really depends on where you live and what you drive.
If you drive a 4wd or fwd vehicle then 90% of the country you don’t need them. RWD vehicles in almost any snowy area you’ll need them. If you live in mountain regions or the Great Lakes rust belt area then they are also needed.
If you confine your driving to Florida and agree to stay home if it does snow or ice, then no you don’t need them.
If you live in upstate NY and drive on back roads in the mountains, you need them.
If you get a few snows or a few days with ice and you can’t stay home to avoid it, I strongly recommend them. They may well save your or another’s life.
If you currently have a car equipped with summer tires it is an absolute requirement to have winter tires if temp drops below 40F. Usually this equipping is limited to sports cars and sedans with performance packages or equipped from that factory that way. However the majority of vehicles have all-seasons.
Its a personal choice. Winter tires in winter conditions are absolutely superior not only in getting your car moving, but world’s apart in the ability to stop and turn(corner) in winter conditions. Don’t be deceived by owning a 4wd/AWD vehicles as getting going is easy, but you are just like everyone else in the (lack of) ability to stop/turn with all-seasons. The stopping distance is up to 50% shorter with winter tires. The cornering ability is significantly better.
That being all said most can use decent all-seasons and drive very carefully and like most hope for the best. I do. Our area New England they turn snowy roads into brown using salt/sand mixture that has them black within hours of a storm. I have the luxury in life of telecommuting to work or if facing the potential of a terrible drive stay put.
Andrew J said essentially what I would have said.
When people think of winter tires, they tend to think only of their ability to get you going in winter conditions. However, their real safety edge becomes apparent in terms of vastly decreasing the length of your stopping distance on snow and ice. Typically, when stopping a car from a speed of 30 mph, a good winter tire will allow you to decrease your vehicle’s stopping distance by at least 30 feet. If you think about it, that can mean the difference between hitting another car or not hitting it.
And, when making a turn, winter tires will give you far superior ability to stay on track without sliding toward the outside of the curve. If you put the braking and handling factor together with the “go” factor, winter tires do provide a significant safety advantage.
Many people will say that you can get by with all-season tires, but you have to remember that there is no official standard for “all-season” tires, and some of them are essentially useless on snow–despite the terminology that the manufacturer uses. The Bridgestone Potenza RE-92, which is standard equipment on most Subarus and on some Lexuses (Lexi?), comes to mind as a particularly useless tire in winter conditions, but this is undoubtedly not the only “all-season” tire that performs poorly on snow.
When you consider that your “normal” tires are out of service during the 3 or 4 months that most people use their winter tires, the purchase of winter tires does not really cost that much more money in the long run. And, if they are mounted on their own steel rims, you can mount them yourself when it becomes apparent that the time has come for them.
Even though my vehicle has AWD, traction control, ABS, and stability control, I still appreciate the extra “edge” that winter tires provide. When people tell me that you can “get by” with all-season tires, I point out to them that a person can probably “get by” on an income of $30,000. per year, but that most people would feel far more comfortable and more secure with an income of $100,000. per year. In a similar fashion to having a higher income, having winter tires on your car will provide comfort and security that all-season tires cannot provide.
NH doesn’t get enough snow to warrant snow tires (unless you drive in the mountains area a lot). We’ve easily maneuvered through the WORSE NH has to offer in decent All-Season tires on my wifes Accord and now Lexus. We had the worse winter on record last year and the All Season tires did just fine.
I do agree snow tires are better for those snowy days…but here in NH that accounts for about 1% of the time. Most of the time it’s NOT snowing…and the roads have been cleared…where all season tires will do much better then winter tires will. And those days that you do need to drive in a snow storm the All-Season tires are fine.
I concur that most snow tires will not always do as better as all-seasons on dry pavement during the winter. But if you own winter tires they are far superior than all-seasons on dry cold pavement. The rubber compound is optimized for temps <50F. All-seasons make do with a rubber compound that has do work over all ranges. You lose traction as the temp drops lower as the rubber simply gets hard.
Ice is much more common hazard in NE than snow. I was astounded how well my winter tires performed on ice. I’ve always gotten by with all-seasons in the past. Not any more, I’m sold on winter tires. They have their downsides but the benefits of sure handling in inclement conditions makes them well worth it IMO.
But if you own winter tires they are far superior than all-seasons on dry cold pavement. The rubber compound is optimized for temps <50F.
Completely disagree with that. The compound may be softer…but the tread certainly isn’t. It’s the tread that’s going to give you the MOST traction. And on dry pavement either cold or hot…the tread of an all-season tire is far far far better then the tread on a true winter tire.
The problem with any answer is that the truth is subject to (1) the driving environment, (2) the experience of the driver, (3) the vehicle itself, and (4) the actual tires.
I’ve driven in all kinds of weather, including North Dakota, for 40 years. 36 of them were in New England, mostly NH. In my experience, a good set of all season radials with good new tread will outperform a marginal (cheap) set of winter tires, especially if 50% of the tread is gone.
Technique is so critical that a good and experienced winter driver can drive much more safely on slippery road surfaces with said good set of all seasons that a novice can drive with even the best set of winter tires.
And then there’s the car itself. Some cars I’ve owned were just plain much better on slippery roads than others. There’s lots of technical detail involved including wheelbase, gearing, weight distribution, weight, tire size, type of drivetrain and/or differential, etc. etc. etc.
If you stay home in bad weather, you’re experienced, and your driving is local and on level roads, you’ll be fine with any medium quality all season tire. If you have to drive no matter the weather, you have to drive on hills, and especially on you’re a novice, winter tires are definitely the way to go…perhaps even AWD. And there are so many different cases out there that this paragraph copuld go for 600 words.
That’s my feeling on the subject.
I generally agree with what Mountainbike has to say, but I would disagree with his opinion of “winter” tyres. That opinion matches my opinion of “snow” tyres, but modern winter tyres are a different animal.
Most people will be fine with all season tyres, nearly all, but that 0.5% that are not good …
Perhaps we have a semantics difference here, perhaps due to differences in where we live. I understand there to be summer tires, all-season tires, and winter tires. Modern winter tires, which I also call snow tires, come deeply lugged with patterns designed to readily release snow and fully siped prepared for ice.
Perhaps in your area the terms are used differently?
your location has alot to do with winter tires i live in pa .we get some snow up here .the last few year i been running all seasonal.they seem to work for me.so far
Besides the mountain regions…the ONLY place that you SHOULD have good snow tires is the Great Lakes region. In some areas the lake effect snow accounts for 200" of snow. You’ll be driving in snow 30-40% of the time. Unless you’re a shut-in…there’s just no way of avoiding driving in several inches of snow several times a year. Just too much snow to avoid it.
On the flip side, a set of dedicated winter tires will quickly be ruined if driven when summer temps are present.
Must be the temperature and the road surface, combined with soft tire material.
The surface of the tire will become very uneven, causing noise and vibration.
For BMW in Milwaukee it was just about mandantory,BMW needed all the help they could get.
The tire changing activity caused a lot of traffic in the shop, more oppourtunity for upsales.
Are you trying to say Worst? Like the most bad?
I live in Maine and do not require snow tires. Good luck.