Let it Snow: Snow Tires vs.
Those first winter snows are beautiful to look at—but not so great to drive in. For better handling in inclement weather, you might be considering snow tires for your car. But do you really need them; or are all-season radials enough?
First, the difference between the two:
- Snow tires have treads with large void areas between them. These larger spaces allow the tire to dig into and grip the snow better than all-season tires, making them ideal for heavy winter conditions.
- Most all-season radials are marked with an “M+S” or “M/S.” This designates “mud and snow,” meaning they have mud and snow capabilities that provide safe, all-weather performance. The treads on all-season tires have smaller void areas between them, which provide some degree of snow traction and a quieter ride.
Heavier cars, all-wheel-drive, and front-wheel-drive cars all handle the snow better than other cars. If you live in an area outside the Snow Belt that doesn’t typically experience harsh winter climates and have one of these cars, an all-season tire may be all you need.
If you do have a lighter car, or if typical winter weather conditions in your area make snow tires a necessity, be sure to fit all four wheel positions with them: Don’t mix and match with all-season tires or other tires of different size, construction, rating, or pattern type. For optimum traction and vehicle handling, all tires should be the same type and rating.
Whether you stick with your all-seasons or opt for snow tires, remember to always exercise caution when driving in bad weather. That, coupled with whatever tire you choose, will help keep you safer—regardless of the driving conditions!